You may or may not be updated on latest news from the Chronicles of FIG. It doesn’t look good for Parkour to stay out of the 2020 Olympics as a Gymnastics discipline, but the night is always darkest just before the dawn. In this article we’ll delve into what’s been going on through Facebook and the rest of the web and what it means for the average traceur out there.
If you want a more serious breakdown of events check out Damien Puddle’s article here. This article is meant more to track the experience of someone who gets all their information from social media.
We’ve all been getting bullied by FIG now since at least February 2017 when it first entered the stage. (But like Imperfect Cell they were probably hiding somewhere in a time machine just waiting to emerge and wreak havoc). Parkour UK and French Parkour Federation were the first to issue public letters of their disapproval for FIG wanting to annex a sport that doesn’t belong to them.
Most Americans had never heard about FIG before APEX School of Movement announced in May of 2017 they would be holding their next APEX International in Montpelier, France alongside FISE, FIG and Jump Freerun. It became apparent that FIG and FISE just wanted the public accumen and credibility APEX and Jump Freerun had accrued with the parkour community over the last decade, so APEX decided to cancel their involvement in the event almost as quickly as they had announced their involvement in it to the public.
Damien Puddle, (Parkour New Zealand/Parkour Earth) released a great video on YouTube discussing what we could learn from other sport disciplines being appropriated for the Olympics as FIG now proposes to do.
MüvMag creator Andrew Obenreder released a series of graphic images to combat the We Are Gymnastics campaign that took the internet by storm. I’m sure you or someone you know shared at least one of them.
VICE News Sports division interviewed Eugene Minogue (Parkour Earth) and wrote a really fascinating article you can read here. They make compelling comparisons to how other sports have been thrown into the Olympics by nonrepresentative organizations strictly for commercial wealth gain. And make a solid point that FIG wants Parkour ready to go for a possible 2024 Olympics in Paris to make extra money off the birthplace of Parkour.
In August of 2017 Parkour Earth established itself as the international governing body of the sport (contesting the earlier claim by WFPF’s International Parkour Federation). They then issued a public letter in that same month asking FIG to step down because they had the high ground.
Luckily Parkour Earth doesn’t post that often on Facebook so you can scroll back pretty far and see most of their relevant posts in the Misadventures of FIG. Here’s another letter where they are responding to FIG telling them about their concerns with the letter FIG sent them in April of 2017. They also assert that Parkour UK never claimed to be an International governing body and that no such governing body existed prior to Parkour Earth’s establishment in July of 2017 (again sleighting any acceptance of the IPF).
In November of 2017 FIG announced their newly formed Parkour Commission including David Belle himself. On that day any hope of Papa Parkour joining the Light Side were snuffed out by his love of money. It makes you feel sort of bad for him, he chose to gave up governing Parkour and has been trying to get it back ever since. How must it feel to change the world and then turn your back on it?
Parkour Earth released another letter in December further detailing their rendezvous with the FIG presidents. This was still a time where we thought Palpatine was the good guy, little did we know what came next.
We started off the year with FIG’s President Morinari Watanabe announcing his plan to create a “new gymnastics community” and it became clearer than ever that FIG only wanted to control parkour and had no interest at all with cooperating with the thriving parkour community.
Amos Rendao (Apex School of Movement/ParkourEDU) wrote a public Facebook post about talks he had with Victor Bevine and his feelings on WFPF joining with FIG after publicly slandering APEX for nearly doing the same here.
In March Damien Puddle and MüvMag released the most comprehensive FIG news chronicle that we have seen to date and highly recommend you delving into that full history here.
Rene Scavington released his thoughts in an April post that echo a sentiment we have here at Parkour Entrepreneur. That FIG is supporting a dying sport and doesn’t have the ability to stay afloat without us. He also questions those athletes that chose to take part in FIG events despite the proposed solidarity of not participating in their events at all.
MüvMag released a series of livestream interviews dealing with community questions from several of the individuals closest to the pulse on what the FIG is going on lately.
MüvMag and Craig Constantine partnered with Pinnacle Parkour Philadelphia to interview Sebastian Foucan on his thoughts about FIG gate in an hour and a half long livestream you can watch below.
The Motus Projects decided to approach the FIG problem by creating a fundraiser campaign via their “Fuck the FIG” t shirt. The proceeds from this campaign go directly toward supporting grassroots parkour businesses by funding new vault boxes or event venues or whatever other financial expenses prevent growth within the Parkour Economy.
Some other members of the community are incorporating FIG into their content or marketing efforts. While others write very serious public letters, Riot Parkour, took an equally important role in creating comedic content out of the drama.
And for a few months we heard very little from the FIG news front until one day in October 4 more members of the FIG Parkour Commission resigned in a public letter that you most likely shared on Facebook. In the letter they discuss their reasons for joining in the first place and how they hoped their involvement on the inside could act as a voice for the international parkour community. Are you noticing a trend here? Anyone willing to make a deal with the Devil ended up realizing the deal wasn’t so sweet sooner or later.
It became clear that International Gymnastic Federations were going to vote on the addition of Parkour as a discipline and this began a slew of more letter writing from Parkour commissions all over the world.
On December 1st of this year Parkour Earth wrote FIG another letter. In the letter they ask members voting to abstain or vote NO from including Parkour as a Gymnastics discipline as it is in direct violation of the will of the Parkour community. As you can imagine, FIG didn’t really care.
And then we found out the news we had all been dreading. A vote by FIG to include Parkour under their perview as Gymnastics. Now you won’t find that on FIG’s Facebook page but you can be sure this won’t be the last we here from them.
In the Parkour Research group this very morning Julie Angel posted calling for members of each nation to petition their Gymnastics boards to find out how they voted so we can have more clear information about how we are being represented.
And that brings us up to date for the present day. I know it was a lot to process and please make sure to read Damien Puddle’s more complete history of FIG’s news coverage here. I hope you’ve enjoyed the highs and lows of this journey trying to a navigate a post FIG apocalyptic universe.
So. What in Parkour Earth do we do now, knowing everything we know?
I’ve put off writing a piece on FIG up until now because the opinion I hold is not necessarily a popular one. I am not a bureacrat, and I am only recently a small business owner. What I am is an optimist and a realist.
I do not believe that Parkour lives or dies by the decisions of FIG, it will always live in the hearts of those that move. I am not sure that the concentrated efforts by Parkour communities worldwide to lobby FIG will have the effect they desire. (But please keep at it cause I can’t write letters, only the communities can).
But what I do know is any press is good press. And we as a sport are getting a lot of buzz now that we have not received since the early 2010s. When FIG starts making Parkour content to inspire the masses for the Olympics they will not know any better how the Parkour community feels unless we make our voices heard. But that is no easy feat.
So I prefer the actions of companies like MüvMag, to see We Are Gymnastics and to make bold graphic art in defiance of that. I commend the decision by The Motus Projects to fundraise for small parkour businesses. I am excited by videos like Riot Parkour’s comedic Moron Watanabe announcement because it belies the truth that we as a culture are stronger than the actions of a international gymnastics discipline.
Now more than ever you should be supporting Parkour businesses. Make sure you’re attending open gym sessions. Buy a t shirt from the team who ran a booth at your last national jam. Subscribe to MüvMag and Parkour Entrepreneur and support the growth of media jobs within the sport. Only you, reading this now, have the ability to make the best of the world that is to come now.
Will you let FIG dismantle your love for Parkour? Or will you take out Facebook Ads with content that reaches the audiences FIG wants to appropriate? Will you as a gym close down if FIG forces you to get their certification or will you earn enough money from your clients that their involvement is a non-issue?
Amazon was built during a depression. Microsoft was built during a depression. When the chips are down it’s time for us to work harder than ever and my friends the time is now. We can rise from the ashes FIG plans to bathe us in, but only if we do the work. Build better businesses. Film more content. Invite people to like your friend’s page. Actually do it. Stop reading and do something for your community right now. Because otherwise what’s the point?
Only you get to decide if we let FIG win. So decide. Thanks for reading.