Is Habitat for Humanities a good organization? They help people build houses while teaching them how to sustain and maintain a home. Is the organization's intention to help those in need and to educate them? If an organization is created, but it does not know what its goals or intentions are, then that may lead to some complications/frustration down the line. In the book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz writes about his experience launching and running various organizations. In his book, he writes how in a good organization, “people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally, … Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective, and make a difference for the organization and themselves.” In contrast, in a bad organization, “people spend much of their time fighting organizational boundaries, infighting, and broken processes. They are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not.” For parkour, if an organization knows why they do what they do, then the employees will know what to do and have some form of direction. Whether that be to give back to the community, innovate the sport further, or improve upon what is currently there.
- There are plenty of things that can make a parkour organization good, or bad, and many, many more things that fall into a middle grey area. We’re going to bring up some things that different organizations have done, and it will be up to you, the reader, to decide if its a good thing, a bad thing, or maybe neither. We’re gonna list off some things that could, or even have happened in the parkour community. Here goes:
- One prolific early parkour group had dress code rules that dictated that its sponsored athletes could not wear brands, or logos, that were not from the organization they were sponsored by. This certainly feels like an encroachment upon the athlete's personal rights, but also it is one way to clearly delineate sponsorship and affiliation.
- Another organization decided that it would be acceptable to put images and text indicating multiple unassociated athletes support for the company and after being asked by those athletes to take it down, simply ignored the request.
- Sometimes it isn’t technically an organization but an individual, who owns or is strongly affiliated with a Parkour organization that does questionable stuff. How would you feel if when you went to set up a website using your name, someone from your sport who claims to be progressing the discipline has already bought many web addresses that are, or resemble your name, and when confronted simply tries to sell it back to you at a higher price. Another thing that we see often is low-quality obstacle design and build.
- Have you gone to a parkour gym and not been able to train on the setup, because it’s too wobbly? You aren’t sure if it will break if you play on it? (that being what the obstacle was designed to do). Unsafe building practices as well as cranking up the prices of obstacles is something that certainly happens in the parkour community.
- Forming a for-profit organization and then claiming to be recognized as the national representative of your sport, with very little support, and the board of directors is same people as the board of directors of your also for profit organization which has been operating as a distributor of parkour accessories for a while.
- Building an organization designed around spreading the concept of play, and through that safe movement, and providing free structures built to make people move outside of their comfort zones and to enjoy play.
- Forming a gym as a nonprofit and then running progression based classes, all while spending all of their remaining budget to build and design parks and public play spaces.
- Slowly advancing your business, and methodically making sure you aren't growing too fast to keep the message/heart of your sport clear and true to your beliefs.
- Building on current parkour competition formats, and developing new formats which run true to the way we train and create legitimate opportunities for the sport to grow and for professional athletes to be able to sustain themselves without compromising their morals.
- Creating an international organization through total transparency, electing a board which does not have a stake in the commercial shifts in parkour, and gaining support from many local organizations.
A notable organization (which we do not mind naming) that is known in the parkour community for being poorly run is FIG (Federation Internationale de Gymanstique). FIG is considered a parkour organization because they have essentially decided to make themselves the main governing body of parkour and its athletes. They are poorly running the parkour portion of their organization by trying to take it upon themselves to create and dictate what they believe the rules and regulations of parkour should be. FIG has not asked for community input and has set up rules for their competitions which go against the spirit of parkour.
There were some examples of primary things that current parkour organizations have done, for the better or worse of the growth of our sport. We hope to be an example of a transparent, and above board organization that promotes the positive growth of parkour and fosters growth in anyone who walks through our doors. If anyone notices something we are doing that seems shady or unacceptable, just bring it to our attention, our ears are open and we would love to hear your input.
PPK Philly Team