Author Topic: Sponsored Athletes  (Read 1206 times)

Hainesy

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Sponsored Athletes
« on: October 12, 2012, 10:15:06 AM »
The following is just some thoughts I've been having about the future of parkour and freerunning. I hope the future will not turn out like this.

I'm noticing a lot of parkour brands nowadays. Big brands. RedBull, TakeFlight, UF, WFPF. Each of these brands (or companies) has 'sponsored athletes'. You can easily find these athletes from the brands home page. And the brand invariably gives more prominence to their athletes on the webpages, blogs and youtube. Now I don't really have a problem with this, but I can see it heading down a bad road.

If you look at grand prix car racing, the winning brand is mentioned in the same sentence as the winning athlete. "Mark Webber wins in Monaco for Red Bull". Sometime even the brand is first, "Red Bull wins with Casey Stoner". All the athletes are sponsored by a few major brands, and then the brands share in whatever the athlete wins. Car racing is just one example, but there are plenty more out there (think horse racing).

I'm concerned parkour may head down this road. I don't like this road because to me it leads to another kind of competition. Not an organised competition based on an athletes movement, but a competition between brands to have the best parkour stable. If Red Bull wins 3 of the 5 parkour competitions in a given year, they will inevitably claim to have the best parkour athletes in the world. Other brands then might try to pinch these athletes to boost their own status. Athletes will be offered wast sums of money to swap to a different sponsor (think AFL trade season).

In this situation the athletes become pawns in the game played by the big brands. The movement is lost as the focus shifts to the winners, and the winning brands. The more successful athletes are pursued by the different brands, offered vast sums of money, and then left to the side when they can no longer perform. In current competitions the focus is moving from the movement to the winning athlete. This is bad, but worse is to come if the focus shifts from the winning athlete to the winning brand.

I can't be sure how the future will play out. All I know is this is not the future I wish for parkour. I urge all traceurs to avoid associating with any brands. Brands don't own parkour, you do. You don't need a brand to sponsor you, and you certainly don't need to wear 'official parkour' clothing to train parkour. Parkour is learnt outside, from yourself. Go outside, challenge yourself, listen to your body, and move.
That I'm cranial and analytical is no question. That's how I roll.

Do you train for parkour or do you use parkour to train?

Ive seen far too many videos of kids doing corks on a trampoline,
yet not having the strength to do a climb-up or a 6-foot precision.

TJ

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 01:08:46 PM »
Wise words. I hadn't actually though this far ahead with everything that is going on, but I feel it is a very valid observation.

Sigh.

Eliot

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2012, 09:57:50 AM »
I'm not sure I really agree with you there...Competitions exist and we are still here, there is no mass of people leaving the APA or our style of Parkour...

Sponsored athletes for Parkour competitions rep those brands while competing, and to say "Casey stoner wins for Red Bull" Is 100% correct because for all intensive purposes, he is an employee of redbull...
You're also saying this is bad during Parkour competitions, many athletes are sponsored without being in competitions (especially not parkour competitions - Red Bull Art of Motion doesn't even say Freerunning...) and/or represent their brand during non-competitions (i.e. Jason Paul represents Redbull in many of his videos, outside of the comps, and does not misrepresent what he does at their hands)

I get a bit tired of all the hate for sponsorships and competitors even when they aren't and don't say they do Parkour. The guys with the Red Bull sponsorships worked fucking hard to get it and are now getting paid not to change what they do and call it Parkour, but they do what they do, don't call it parkour, and get excellent experiences because of their sponsors.!

Parkour doesn't own movement disciplines.

Zekage

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2012, 11:09:08 AM »
"Growl"

But its implied Eliot. Doesn't matter if they don't use the term parkour or freerunning. Both of these disciplines will be tared with the same brush
and people will assume they stand for the same things. Big money, big competition, sponsorship, and thrill seeking.
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Eliot

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 08:33:16 PM »
So what, you don't want them to do what they love just because someone somewhere might think it is Parkour?

The issue isn't them, the issue is that the onlookers need to be more educated on it. That's where we come in, and from what I've seen misunderstanding among the people I have come into contact is much lower.

EViC

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2012, 11:35:38 PM »
for all intensive purposes

"For all intents and purposes"

I know, I was shocked when I discovered this as well.

But yeah I also disagree with you Hainesy. There's nothing inherently "wrong" with corporate sponsorship / promoting a brand, unless there is a separate moral issue in there.
When they say "Casey Stoner wins for Red Bull" that's absolutely spot on, because a victory at that level is a team effort. He didn't win on his own, if his pit crew and his mechanics weren't also world class he probably wouldn't be on the podium.
These athletes are there by the good graces and at a significant cost to their sponsoring brand and if they aren't performing, they SHOULD be dropped. Just like the pit crew and mechanics should be if they can't perform at the level required.

Just because you (and I) are not attracted to a high pressure performance world like that, doesn't mean these athletes aren't and that it's not exactly what they signed up for.
You seem to think the athletes are being outright exploited by the brands, but you seem to ignore the reciprocity of the relationship and what the athletes gain from it.

Quote
Brands don't own parkour, you do.

Who does? You? You think you own Parkour?
The noobs who are training to get sponsorship own Parkour?
The "Parkour community" owns Parkour?

Pretty sure David owns it. lol

Eliot

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2012, 01:44:53 AM »
for all intensive purposes

"For all intents and purposes"

I know, I was shocked when I discovered this as well.


HOLY SHITBALLS.


Also this
Quote from: EViC
You seem to think the athletes are being outright exploited by the brands, but you seem to ignore the reciprocity of the relationship and what the athletes gain from it.


BIG thing often overlooked. I mean, Ryan Doyle got PAID to go to some of the most amazing places on this earth and do what he loves to do! I can't remember if that was labeled as parkour or not, if it was then there is an issue there, but if it wasn't (which I have a feeling it wasn't) then good on him! What an achievement.

Sample

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2012, 09:23:45 AM »
Using motor racing as an example was a bad choice Z-Dog. Red Bull running an entire racing team is different from an individual being sponsored. Your points are valid and worth thought but I think your comparison hurts your argument.
Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2012, 02:05:35 PM »
Hainesy I think you massively underestimate the drive, motivation and innovation behind some of the top sponsored athletes. For example that Red Bull rube goldburg video. Whose concept do you think that was, Red Bull's or the sponsored athlete's? A lot of the guys at the top of the game are their not just because of their skill at movement but also because they are very switched on people who make shit happen. Big companies will only attract these people if they keep providing them with these new opportunities to push them and engage them not just big money.

A lot of your cynicism towards competition seems to stem from a clear lack of understanding of competitive sports. Might I suggest some easy viewing material for you to start out with such as:
-Mighty Ducks
-Space Jam
-Cool Runnings

EViC

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2012, 06:50:14 PM »
Might I suggest some easy viewing material for you to start out with such as:
-Mighty Ducks
-Space Jam
-Cool Runnings

Best. Gonna watch all of these again.

Hainesy

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2012, 10:16:29 AM »
I'm happy to be proven wrong, and I freely admit I don't know a lot about competition and international brands/companies. I will research more when I get time. I just thought I'd raise a couple of points that may or may not occur in the future, and see what people's responses are. It's good to get a range, from people agreeing, disagreeing and partly agreeing. Thanks.
That I'm cranial and analytical is no question. That's how I roll.

Do you train for parkour or do you use parkour to train?

Ive seen far too many videos of kids doing corks on a trampoline,
yet not having the strength to do a climb-up or a 6-foot precision.

EViC

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 01:27:57 PM »
Relevant?


Eliot

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 04:28:38 PM »
That was awesome.

Bryce

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 08:28:34 PM »
like

Misha/man

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Re: Sponsored Athletes
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2012, 08:00:05 PM »
As an amature Parkour practitioner the decision of brands to sponsor and the choice of Parkour athletes to be sponsored, as a way to make a living, will not impact the individual practice of Parkour practitioners; brand sponsorship will never change that. With brands will come a new level of exposure through many forms such as competitions, clothing, accessories, shows etc. This will dilute the public perception of Parkour presenting it as something like an extreme sport devoid of the philosophy, hey but how else do you accommodate the lowest common denominator - i.e. making money. This kind of development is nothing new and started as soon as Parkour was exported outside of France with the Jump series and the rise of Urban Freeflow etc.

Education will not change this as it is up to the individual to educate themselves (you only learn what you care to learn) and the true value of Parkour philosophy will be lost in the mass market, however, a percentage of new practitioners will be draw to look deeper. For those that practice the philosophical and physical Parkour nothing will change, so keep working on your own Parkour practice and enjoy the coming absurdity.
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