If you’re involved in the parkour community you may have heard the acronym USPK increasingly around the parkour community this year.
So what is it? The acronym USPKA stands for United States Parkour Association.
Now, most sports have nonprofit National Governing Bodies that represent them and promote and develop the sport. Parkour in its history so far has not had that, but USPK has been working hard over many years to build an association from within the community.
As noted on the USPK website
"The United States Parkour Association (USPK) is the National Governing Body for Parkour, Freerunning and L’Art du Deplacement in the USA. It is a non-profit organization formed by members of the parkour community, committed to growing and protecting the discipline of parkour through events, education, and outreach. Learn more about governance.
A 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2018, USPK works to bring together all of those involved in our practice: practitioners, students, parents of students, professional athletes, business owners, community leaders, and general enthusiasts."
2023 has been a big year for them as it was the first time implementing many of their visions into reality.
Now as far as events go, this year they ran their first circuit of what has now become the biggest pipeline of competitions in the U.S.
In the image above you can see what they’ve created is a type of pyramid system for competitions. You can compete in local competitions (ex. in house gym comp), which leads to regional competitions (ex. WCPKC finals, or USPK qualifier event), which leads to national competition (ex. USPK finals).
Then if you made it through all those brackets it leads to the international competition run by Sport Parkour League held in Vancouver, Canada. Athletes from around the globe battle it out to see who stands on top in the 3 categories of Speed, Skill, and Style.
Overall the format this year got a lot of traction and was a huge success. As more parkour leagues apply to be a part of this circuit the trajectory of involvement for these competitions is only set to grow.
Though there are many varying opinions on the relationship between parkour and competitions, as the sport grows the number of emerging athletes does as well. Naturally, there will be those who want to create more out of their passion than just a personal hobby.
Competitions have been a huge way to propel athletes into the spotlight and thus things like sponsorships and collaborations are becoming more normalized. This is similar to how other urban sports such as skateboarding and BMX became professionalized and ultimately gave the option to make a career out of the sport.
Many are starting to realize and tap into the potential of the amazing sport that is parkour. Red Bull already currently sponsors a handful of athletes and runs a competition called Art of Motion. Several years back we even had a Freedom in Motion athlete compete and place well at one of these Red Bull events!
But there is a fight to keep parkour in the hands of those that do parkour and USPK’s mission is to do just that. By standardizing and organizing events such as competitions USPK is helping set examples of what a parkour community can create whilst keeping the sport at the heart of what they make.
At the same time USPK is showing the outside community that we can be taken seriously as a riveting and multifaceted sport to invest in, whether monetary or otherwise.
If you want to learn more about what USPK is involved in, check out their website https://www.uspk.org/.