While I agree with a lot of the ideas and sentiment being expressed in here (and I have only been playing for 2 years), there are a few things that I respectfully disagree with. And I will draw some comparisons to a completely different sport/ activity.
1) Cost of equipment = maturity level / respectfulness of players.
2) Younger players = less respectful players.
The broader issue is consumerism, mass appeal, and accessibility. Just from a sheer numbers point of view, the more people on a field, the more likely the chance of having one person who is being a bit of a dick. And those people stand out.
- Think of your commute to work this morning. How many cars did you pass / see / encounter? How many of them were Audi-driving a-holes (just kidding Rossco... BMWs only). If you live in a rural area, and see maybe 100 cars on your 10 km commute, the likelihood of seeing a lot of idiots is low. If you take the QEW into Toronto, chances are you will see a lot of idiots.
As Airsoft expands in popularity, and the number of practitioners climb, there is a far greater likelihood of meeting one of these jerks at some point. And they stick out in your mind.
1) My completely anecdotal and limited experience indicates that a lot of new players are engineers, investment bankers, mechanics, labourers etc. Or in other words, people who have some money. They may not see the benefit right away of buying a Polarstar, but they probably are able to. Airsoft is a pretty expensive hobby even on the cheap side.
2) Of the younger players that I have seen come into the game (again, I'm limited in my view / scope), they have been very respectful. Of course, they have come in under the tutelage of some more experienced players. I have seen a lot of "older" players being complete jerks, running around like only their opinion matters, and nobody else is right about anything. Granted, I don't play indoor games at some of the run and gun arenas.
My view on this is comparable to rock climbing. When I started in 1985, there were no gyms. There were few accessible crags, and Sport Climbing was something that was done in France, Spain, or Smith Rocks. Within a few years, there was a large influx of new climbers. Gyms opened up and propagated. Climbing gear became much more accessible, and cheaper options appeared. There was suddenly "access" problems at crags due to overpopulation (these were the new climbers, mostly mid-aged professionals) causing lots of problems because they "weren't respectful". Unfortunately, it was unavoidable. Increased numbers meant that there was an increased chance of accidents / trail erosion/ litter/ fist-fights in the parking lot.
But I bet that the climbers who started in the 1970s saw me and my generation as the cancer that was killing the sport and ruining it for everyone.
Sorry for the wall of text.