Chances are if you clicked on this link, you either have wanted or do want to get sponsored by a Parkour clothing brand or Adidas or Nike. You’ve dreamed about traveling all over the world like Storror and making stunt money like Tempest. But why should a Parkour clothing brand sponsor you? What value do you bring to them as an athlete that someone with more Instagram followers can’t provide them? In this article we’re going to discuss the reality of the current state of Sponsorships within Parkour. In order to do that we’ll cross reference data against this article on Skateboarding.
This is hearsay, since we don’t have dedicated statistics yet, but I remember hearing that Julie Angel estimates there are about 70,000 total Parkour practitioners in the world (I don’t remember if that was on Parkour Research or in her book Breaking The Jump). Internationally, there are more than 20 Million people that identify as Skateboarders, and those 20 Million people have gained the sport a Net worth of almost 5 Billion dollars. But Skateboarding was invented in the 1940s and has had decades to built that type of economic infrastructure with an ecosystem of interconnected business models. Skate shops and sporting goods stores need products to sell, so gear companies produce quality products and promote them by sponsoring athletes that help to drive sales traffic.
Here’s what it costs Nike to make and market just one pair of shoes in 1995.
Parkour was “invented” in the late 1980s and only became publicly known as a French television special in 1999. You can read more about the data behind the rise of Parkour online in Max Henry’s article on Google Trends here, but suffice it to say we’ve had less than 2 decades to turn those YouTube views into serious dollars. To put that into perspective let’s take a look at Storror’s YouTube statistics on SocialBlade below.
Now bear in mind that Storror is making the majority of their profits from selling clothing, but their recent rise from 1 Million Subscribers in April of 2018 to over 3 Million as of November 2018 has undoubtedly made their YouTube profits a more significant portion of the Storror Business Model. That being said, even being in the top 3,000 YouTubers in terms of subscribers and top 9,000 in total video views – Storror is still estimated to make between $8,000 and $128,000 a month for their YouTube account, and I’m willing to bet that number is much closer to $8,000 than it is to $128,000.
But that $8,000 doesn’t go directly into the pockets of each Storror, they have to pay for the 500-1000 pieces of clothing they put out with each biannual collection, which even at Chinese factory prices costs them easily $5,000-$15,000. Not to mention the travel budget that allows their business model to work in the first place, 7 athletes traveling on just $500 costs the team $3,500 a month – they haven’t even fed Callum yet off that money, that’s just business expenses. Let’s do another math problem.
Let’s assume Storror makes $16,000 a month from their YouTube channel. They save 25% of that each month and put away $4,000 toward a fund that allows them to afford future Clothing collections and travel funds for the 7 Active Team Members. That leaves them with $12,000 a month before taking out that $3,500 to make sure each athlete can travel for the month to make that YouTube content, but let’s call it 3K since they don’t all travel the same amount – that puts us at $9,000 a month. Now assuming that that $4,000 a month also pays for website hosting and maintenance and that $9,000 is equally distributed between each Storror that means they make $1,285 each for the month. To put that in perspective I made more money working 30 hours a week at Whole Foods making $12 an hour (now they make $15 an hour so let’s say 24+ hours of weekly work).
When the Storrors eat they do not have a company card that pays for each of their meals, they pay for it themselves. I have no idea how they do their taxes or how taxes work in the UK but if they’re in the US as Independent Contractors earning about $20,000 a year (let’s give them some extra bread for projects like Canon and their clothing sales) – they’re going to be taxed around $1,000 a year. So their travel is covered, they’re eating as affordably as they can and they never have to worry about buying clothes – but there’s no budget or plan to add another Storror to the team so why did we go through all that?
Because if you look at the SocialBlade statistics for Tempest, Farang, Storm and Motus each is estimated to make less than $100 to a few hundred dollars a month at most – and those are the teams that are actually sponsoring new athletes. So how the hell can they afford sponsoring you even if they make a few thousand a month on clothing sales that then has to be distributed between their clothing, travel and current athlete budget?
The answer is that they don’t. That’s why Storm sends free gear to athletes like Nick Ortiz, Brandon Douglass and Maxwell Henry – because they need the exposure to more audiences to add to their total sales as a brand in order to keep afloat. Most of the money that comes to these athletes comes from product endorsements like the one Storror did with Canon and all the Hollywood projects that Tempest gets to be a part of. Farang gets to be Farang because of the cost of living in Bangkok and their relationships with RedBull and GoPro help to supplement the incomes of their athletes as they join.
So where is the money coming from to sponsor and pay for athletes to live besides giving them free gear and occasionally paying for travel?
The answer is it doesn’t exist yet, because with 70,000 total practitioners that means less than 5,000 of them are regularly buying Parkour clothing. Once while attending Art of Retreat someone told me they don’t know anything about Storror – the only team that has achieved mainstream acceptance by mass media standards. So if the leaders of our sport don’t support the brands that provide opportunities for the upcoming athletes of the sport, how can we expect our Parkour Economy to thrive? It’s not about gym culture vs athlete culture vs competition culture – it’s all of us versus FIG or financial extinction.
So why should your favorite Parkour team sponsor you? The answer is it shouldn’t.
Not until you’ve provided them with an economic incentive to do so. Dom joined Farang because he was there from the start and hustled to make it clear he was the right man to be added to the team, and then he continued to make content consistently even when injured. Joseph Henderson joined Storm and promptly became the “Fasted Man in Parkour” by podiuming in Speed Competitions all over the world. Kelan Ryan helped edit all of Spitting In The Wind in order to earn a little more than just paying travel expenses. It’s the athletes that go the extra mile that get the opportunity to shine for the rest of us.
Here’s a few things you can do to improve your chances of providing value to Parkour:
- Buy clothing from Parkour brands (you can ask for promos not free clothes)
- Upload consistent and progressive content that promotes yourself as an athlete
- Use the hashtags those Parkour brands want you to in order to get Featured
- Watch/share Parkour branded content (your friends should know who Storror is)
- Comment/Like Parkour branded content so you can beat the FB/IG algorithms
- Attend Parkour events and local gym sessions and be a good community member
- Compete in regional and national competitions and rep Parkour branded clothing
- Spend money on Parkour media like books, websites and online programs
- Participate in online groups like Parkour Research and educate your community
- Work so fucking hard as an athlete that brands start approaching you instead
Work harder than you do now. Be proud of your sport. Be patient with its growth. Be relentless in your support of Parkour Businesses. And maybe one day things will change.
Thanks so much for reading everyone! Really hope this one wasn’t too depressing for you, I just thought it was important to set the record straight on what you can actually expect from these Parkour brands we idolize so much. They’re just people like you and me, they just train harder and spend more time communicating via WhatsApp to get shit done. At this moment in time there is nothing stopping you from creating your own local brand or gym and working your ass off to gain market share just like the teams before you did. One day Nike and Adidas will shower us in endorsements if it ever financially make senses for them to do so – but only because every one of you worked their asses off.
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, create them from the obstacles in your path.