The Pros and Cons of Sponsoring the WFPF Pro-AM Event
Should Breathe Parkour sponsor the upcoming World Freerunning & Parkour Federation (WFPF) event in Las Vegas? I struggled with this decision for a long time. I spoke to my peers, athletes planning to attend the event, athletes that were against it, athletes that had never heard of it, and parents of students that come to Breathe gyms. It was not a decision made lightly.
But, after all that deliberation, I decided that Breathe would sponsor the Las Vegas WFPF/Pro-AM Parkour Championship, and I’m proud that my organization will be a part of it. I’ve also decided that, in the future, we will make that same decision again, either for a WFPF event or other grassroots Parkour organizations, and I hope more Parkour organizations join us.
There’s been a ton of controversy over this event. It seems like more people are divided over whether this event is good or bad for Parkour than the age old argument of PK vs. FR. Coming from a sponsor? The controversy is valid and the event isn’t perfect. The WFPF isn’t perfect. Breathe Parkour is a hell of a ways away from being perfect. But how will we grow if we don’t develop?
First, the ugly truth. The WFPF is out to make money off this event. The competition is littered with Woof Poof (WFPF) athletes, both on the judging side and the competitor side. There’s a serious lack of qualifiers, and the format of the event seems like it may exclude some of the world’s top athletes from being serious contenders for the top prize. All of these things are true. But I’m not sponsoring it for any of those reasons. I’m sponsoring it for the athletes.
When we first started Breathe Parkour, it was because so many people I had met had this unbelievable passion for the sport, and it hit me that so few would ever have the chance of turning it into a career. It wasn’t even a choice to be broke doing what you loved because there was literally NO money in it! A hobby was the best you could hope for. Today we provide jobs for 22 passionate people in Parkour, and I wish it were more.
Parkour needs events like this. The WFPF is in a position to host events of this scale, whereas grassroots organizations, like Breathe Parkour, are not. And events like this one need support from organizations who have the athletes’ best interests at heart. Organizations like Origins, Apex, Nrml Brand, Breathe Parkour, and so many others who have been working hard to shape the image of Parkour into a positive, athlete first, community. What so many of us forget is how powerful our advertising and sponsorship dollars can be. When the conversation started about a potential sponsorship, my first request was to open up a second tier for cash prizes. More money for athletes. My second request was to ask that the WFPF come to Breathe if there were any future events. More events mean more chances that my organization can help the WFPF work out issues and make it be a better event every time they decide to put one on.
This event will undoubtedly be seen by thousands of people. Most will have had very limited exposure to Parkour, some might have had none. But these people will see the event whether we participate or not. My gyms are in Canada. I don’t care if some guy in Las Vegas sees my logo. He’s not driving up to take classes from me. I care because it’s far easier to affect change while participating rather than pouting from the sidelines. If we put our money where our mouths are, and come together as a community, we have the power to direct events like these for the betterment of Parkour. We can create judging standards. We can use experience we’ve gathered running our own events to recommend formatting and qualifications. We can make sure people who are seeing Parkour for the first time see the best side of Parkour possible. We can dictate how much of OUR money goes to athletes.
Not only will this help the athletes, but it will also strengthen the community, and that helps everyone.