Saturday, March 17, 2012

WFPF Launches “College Parkour”

I saw this press release earlier today and am drawing attention to it because it not only poses a lot of interesting questions about the future of parkour/freerunning in the USA, but it also highlights a number of the cultural differences that seem to exist within the parkour scenes in different countries.

I’m sure that many traceurs would have differing opinions about the vision of David Thompson, the WFPF president, mentioned in the article, who hopes to “see every college in the United States have a Parkour/Freerunning club or team, to one day see sanctioned inter-collegiate Parkour events, to one day see young people choose a college because of their great Parkour program, or get into a college with a full paid Parkour scholarship!"  While this vision may seem especially strange to non-Americans for whom the concept of “university sponsored athletics” may be unfamiliar, for those of us that are well-acquainted with the system it does not seem that far off.  Having seen the full variety of athletic options available when I was at Davidson, I don’t find it too difficult to see a “parkour club” developing there, just like we had rugby, tennis, water polo, softball, windsurfing… 

The question then becomes, what does this parkour/freerunning club do?  While it may seem harmless to form clubs, normally these clubs have the goal of interacting with other school’s club, and the question then becomes whether that interaction should be in the form of jams, workshops, competitions, or perhaps something that has yet to be developed and manages to keep the philosophy of the sport intact while sating our desire to compete. 

The new logo for the program, as seen on their site.

While I think that the WFPF’s announcement is a great step towards the development of parkour/freerunning in the USA, especially given the power of the American university system to expose its students to new ideas and to give them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have (I guess I’m a pretty good example), I think that a lot of thought and discussion needs to happen concerning the direction of this program and its long-term effect on the sport.  That being said, I’m excited to see what can be done with this program and look forward to following its development.

The full press-release can be found here.

A .pdf version can also be found here.

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