Thoughts on competition

Craig: Right. We’re talking about competition here, so I’m wondering… You have obviouse experience in them, so I’m wondering if you want to give me some of your ideas on competition in general like as a philosophical thing. What do you think of competition in the context of parkour or parkour in the context of competition? Whichever way you want to do that.

Frank: Let’s see. Just competition itself with the context of parkour, I think it is very well done if done with the right people I think mostly because the first time I competed really was in the first I guess EPC, which is the Boston Qualifier for NAPC, and the first time I went there, I was like, “I’ve never really competed. I think I can maybe do good. Let’s see what happens.”

Craig: What could go wrong?

Frank: I’ve heard like a lot of things like people saying like the old-school thing like, “Oh, take competition out of parkour,” and all that. I was very adamant about that at some point in my life too. I was like, “No, I shouldn’t have competition. That makes no sense.”

Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frank: But then, I remember like just hearing and seeing a whole bunch of videos about like people that actually competed, and I was like, “Wow, maybe it can be fun.” I think the key thing that stuck with me was like Ryan Doyle’s take on it when he did the Red Bull Art of Motion in 2011 in London. It was like it’s not like… It’s not 25 people going against each other. It’s 25 people going against the course just trying to figure themselves out and trying to do the best that they can do. That always stuck with me, and then when I did the qualifier, just all these people coming in from like essentially like a good chunk of the Eastern states, and I would just see them. They were all like jumping around, palling around. They were having fun with it. They weren’t there just like, “Man, I’m going to kick your ass. I’m going to beat you.”

Craig: That there will ego trip? Right.

Frank: There was no ego trip. It was just us just jumping around.

Craig: A bunch of kids playing on stuff, right?

Frank: It’s essentially like…

Craig: It’s a good thing. Right.

Frank: Yeah. It’s a jam where people already set challenges essentially. At least that’s what it seemed like to me because we were all just having fun thinking and strategizing of ways to like conquer like the speed course or like figure out different methods to try and attempt like some of the skill challenges that were there, so that’s what really shifted my perspective for competition a lot and solidified into my mind that wow, competition can be great. It can be fun, especially with parkour.

Craig: Did you find that the competitors at this level that you’re talking about, the competitors were actually working together like in… If you go to like the crazy levels of competition in other sports, it’s like you’re not even allowed to look at me and I’m in my own tent. Like they really start getting segregated because it’s the tiny fractions or differences, and one of the concerns I have is that at the moment people don’t have their egos involved because the purses are relatively small and the amount of fame is relatively small, and I’m wondering. Do you think that we can maintain that level of camaraderie amongst the competitors? Do you think we can maintain that as things get bigger, and more money gets involved, and the advertiser discover that this is a thing?

Frank: Let’s see. I would definitely hope so that it can maintain like this, but everyone has a different like sense of altruism in all honesty in terms of the way they perform certain things. I do think what we can do is I do think that we can like keep the ego out of parkour as much as we can so that it doesn’t get to the point to where, let’s say, gymnastics has gone at some point because if it does get to that point, I guess I’m going to have to call it urban sprinkling or something else.

Craig: Right, urban sprinkling or urban skateboard, skateboarding. Right. Change the name.

Frank: Suburban track and field. All right.