‘Gymnastics Is Trying To Take Over Parkour And Make It An Olympic Sport’, VICE Sports reported in a recent article.
While the article covers the Olympics, the global future of action sports, and a largely international stage for the debate, a decidedly New Zealand voice comes through with input from Holly Thorpe, an associate professor at the University of Waikato who studies action sports, and Damien Puddle, the CEO of NZ Parkour and a PhD student at the University of Waikato writing his thesis on parkour.
“Many in the parkour community feel betrayed”, Holly Thorpe told VICE Sports, as the parkour community fractures after Gymnastic’s International Federation, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), launched a battle to takeover the governance of parkour and adapt parkour into a new gymnastics discipline.
“There are obvious reasons for FIG to move as quickly as possible to incorporate parkour. The faster it happens, the less time parkour will have to organize its own international body and challenge for ownership.”
“But this fight isn’t merely about parkour. It’s about who controls the new youth-centric sports that are the Olympics’ future. It’s about whether legacy sports federations, amidst declining participation rates and popularity, can muscle their way to governing these new sports, even if the people who actually play them don’t want that.”
VICE Sports elaborates, “The IOC first required all Olympic sports to be governed by a recognized international body in 1920. Since then, existing federations have had tremendous control over organized sport. Whenever a new, popular sport came along, it was much easier and quicker for an existing federation to claim ownership rather than letting a new federation organically form.”
“Generally, this transition is done under the guise of helping the new sport’s development, creating an elite level, which in turn promises to grow the grassroots. But sports historian David Goldblatt, author of The Games: A Global History of the Olympics, says, “the argument is always the elite layer somehow nurtures, encourages, and develops a broader grassroots. And it’s not true. it’s just not true.” “
Obstacle Racers NZ previously contacted Obstacle Course Racing New Zealand, New Zealand’s recently established national governing body for obstacle sports. “NZ Parkour has taken a clear stance on the issue regarding FIG. With obstacle sports – such as obstacle course racing, parkour and ninja warrior – rising in popularity around the world and the IOC showing a clear interest in developing obstacle sports for future Olympic inclusion, the need for good governance is now required”, OCRNZ replied.