Author Topic: Leaders Unite - University Parkour  (Read 5015 times)

Offline Alec Furtado

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Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« on: June 18, 2011, 11:19:55 AM »
I've putting this off for some time now for a couple reasons... things conflicting for my time (if I'm the person organizing this, wouldn't want to have to duck out), not knowing where to start, being away from home, etc...

Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time this last quarter trying to get an official parkour club recognized at my university (Santa Clara U, near San Jose, CA) and ran into the usual problems. However, the difference here is that the administration at SCU was ridiculously helpful. The club coordinator, Tedd, and head of risk management, Sam, laid out to me exactly what is needed to get parkour to that next level. I know it will work too since Sam told me the risk managers of colleges and universities across the US actually keep very close contact with each other. They all operate in similar ways.

The reason why Leaders Unite is in the title is because I'm going to need a lot of help from the leadership community here.

I strongly advise anyone who can be involved to listen to the entire recording of the meeting I had with them last month. The biggest thing to remember is that Sam and Tedd understand the situation sooo so so well: http://l4m.pdxwebmarketing.com/projects/5-17-2011%20Meeting-Audio%20E.mp3 (44min so make sure you have the time... you'll miss something important if you skip anything)

Here is a transcription I did of an important part of the meeting:
Quote
Sam: And you gotta to think about.. the way that we think about things that are being sort of a riskier program like rugby or parkour or field hockey or whatever, it could be anything. We have to think about what the general population’s gonna think about, because that’s going to be the jury. Because when we get sued, it’s going to go to a jury… when you get sued because you’ll be the president of the parkour club, you’ll be named, we got to think about how we’re going to convince that jury that our decision was the correct decision, not withstanding the risks involved. We parkour is risky. We know rugby is risky. We know all these different things’ risks, but it’s going to be what level of risk are we willing to accept. And just, what we have to look at, we look at a lot of different things on a spectrum. We look at, “Ok, what do other universities do? Have they approved certain clubs?” And so I did a… for all these things I do a blast to all of the other risk managers. When we got stuff back, 4, mostly state schools said “Yea, we have a club, but we don’t really know what they are doing.” These are schools that are enrolling 30-40,000 people, they have tons of clubs. They don’t know what’s going on. State schools also have special protections from the government where they can’t be sued. They have what’s called sovereign immunity, because they are sovereign entities. You can’t sue the state so therefore you can’t sue the university since the university is the state. Students would be still on the hook. What’ll happen is Ohio State will be sued, but they’ll be able to get out of it because their defense is “Hey, we’re the sovereign, you can’t sue the sovereign so we have immunity.” So they’ll pull out and the only people who’ll be left are the students. So, on our case, we’re a private school, so we’re still going to be left. So that’s where we need to think, “Ok, are we going to be able to accept this level of risk.
Me: And regardless of the legitimacy… it’s still a problem.
Sam: Right, it’s still a problem. Most lawsuits… we get sued all the time… most lawsuits cost us upwards of fifty thousand dollars or more, just on initially with regard to, “Ok, let’s get a lawyer, let’s get the ball rolling,” the whole nine yards. So we’ve got to think about, “Ok, some of that we’ve got to accept, not a big deal. We’ll accept whatever we want, have our students do what they can do, go where they want to go, kinda handle that kind of thing.” But then we’ve to think about, ”Ok, we could get sued, that’s fine. But when we get sued, what are the people going to think about? What’s the jury gonna look like?” The jury is going to think James Bond… the opening scene of James Bond. Jumping around, that’s what the plaintiff’s attorney is going to show. “Look at this, this is crazy, they’re falling through things, they’re going crazy.” That’s the overall perception. And then, they’ll go to Youtube and they’re going to find all the crazy Youtube videos that are just random… of people that are doing parkour… or it looks like parkour, but it may not be doing what you’re doing. And so, they’re going to see that. They’re going to say, “What did Alec give you when he wanted the representation or he wanted to get approved?” So then we’re going to say, “Ok, well here’s the video.” They’re going to subpoena it. “Here’s the video that he provided.” So the first part of that video had all of the usual stuff, people jumping off buildings, off of roofs, et cetera. So that’s what they’re gonna see, and they’re like, “Holy crap, that’s crazy! This is exactly what they’re doing.” When in reality it’s not. You guys are doing what you were showing in the other parts, jumping off the sidewalk, jumping down the stairs, doing pullups and stuff like that. But the perception and what the court’s going to see and what the jury is going to see is this crazy parkour thing and the issue is going to be as student who “was doing parkour,” even though he might have been just going down the steps in the stadium, falling, hitting his head, and now is in a coma forever just because… we did everything we could, but he still hit his head. That’s what we’ve got to think about and that’s going to be the perception. The perception at this point of parkour is that it’s crazy… that may not be the reality or what you want to do, but that’s the perception. So that’s kinda how we had to weigh it. Other private universities were like, “Can’t do it, not going to have it,” especially in California because of the nature of California, juries in California… weigh all of these issues and that’s how we make our decision as to what’s risk and what’s not. That said, if it gets to a point where parkour becomes more of a mainstream, more organized… has an official organization where they have rules—I’m just thinking of what rugby does—safety requirements, referees not that you have referees… that’s an example of what certain things have that others don’t. When it gets to that point, we can revisit it. And think about, “Hey, that makes sense. There’s going to be some sort of… we can approach them and say Look! Our school, our SCU Parkour follows the tenets of ‘Parkour International’ and all the rules and requirements thereof. The important thing is that they don’t want to hurt the environment they are in, they just want to be a part of that environment.” So all the things that you actually said in your e-mail, if it was part of a large organization where it had support of that organization, we can point to that and say “look, we’re not crazy, we’re not the ones who are outliers approving this. This is a well run, well thought out national/international organization and our group is just a part of that and we’re going things the right way.” So when it gets to that point, that’s when we can start to say, “Ok, this risk is something we can accept” because we can tell the story. It’s the story that we’re going to tell the jury. And the jury is going to see the James Bond stuff, they’re going to see all the crazy stuff. We’re going to say, “Yea, yea, that’s part of it, but that’s not what parkour was here, because we follow the tenets of this international organization. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” That’s going to be an easier thing to sell. But at this point, we’re not going to be able to sell that because it’s just not there yet. That’s the process and how we think about it. It’s not something we take lightly or something like that, we really chew on it and get information  form all different sources. And that’s why sometimes, we accept things that are completely random. Like, we’ll send people to places where you’re not supposed to be going in the world because we think it’s important for us to be there. We’ll still allow some people to go to certain areas of Mexico, even though it’s not the best place to go right now. We’ll still allow people to go to certain areas in the middle east, Israel etc, even though it’s not the best place to go right now, because we think that’s important and there’s a support structure there, a safety structure there, to help us get-in/get-out. So that’s just all the process. And waivers… that’s another thing, we can do waivers and we can show the jury our waivers… it might mitigate the risks because we can say, “Look, you assumed  the risk” but it’s still not going to remove the risk. Not that we want to remove the risk, but something like this where a kid could just be doing a pullup, slip off, and hit his head… that’s the big issue. That’s kinda the way we go about it. We have to think of level of care… what’s reasonable. And it’s reasonable that you would want to do parkour. You’re in a university, you’re a young college student, it makes sense. And us as a university, where we want people to do those kinds of things. But then we’ve got to think about, “Ok, what’s the standard of care for parkour and can we reach that level?” and we just don’t think we can reach that level at this point.


Before anybody starts throwing out ideas or assembling a packet, I think we need to decide HOW we are going to do this. IMO, this forum layout won't work the best. My vote is that we develop the organization on Google Wave.

This should be fun!! I'm excited to build this with you guys! Message here if you can participate and we'll iron out how/where we'll start developing ideas.

Sam got excited when mentioning it as a international organization as well, so anybody outside of the U.S. should definitely participate (e.g. NOS :)).
« Last Edit: June 18, 2011, 11:38:52 AM by Alec Furtado »
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Offline aerosfcity

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 10:00:22 AM »
Dude, you should probably talk to people who have already done it.  Joe Torchia and Nick Kelly in Ohio started an "official" school recognized club at Ohio State University almost 4 years ago.  Its been done so go ask how and try to recreate their success. 

No need to reinvent the wheel. 


I would also try getting help from these guys or other "leaders" in the game directly.  No big call outs for help and a union of collaboration, just make a phone call or look up an email.  You will definitely get more real usable help that way.


Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 10:36:14 AM »
Alec, he's asking you to show that you are following principles laid down by a recognized Parkour body. Why not just take Mark's assistance in this, and cite APK (with Mark's permission ofcourse) as the Parkour body he's looking for?
Also, I agree with what aerosfcity says above.

Also, I don't think I'll be able to provide much input on this, nor be able to derive any help from it myself, because the situation in my country is a lot, lot different. We don't/can't have college Parkour clubs here the way you do. Most people of college-going age can't even enjoy extra-curricular activities, because they hardly get the time for it. School and college lives here are miserable, given Indians' obsession with education, and insistence that a kid that age has to do nothing but study 24x7. That's why most practitioners you'd find here are people who've finished college.
And if we tried to get permission, we'd run into a very different kind of problem in trying to convince authorities, not the same as your main moot point of liability, because they don't seem to be that lawsuit-trigger-happy here, over here everything is politically motivated, and people are usually just closed to any and all new ideas or things they don't understand.

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 12:15:22 PM »
I would also try getting help from these guys or other "leaders" in the game directly.  No big call outs for help and a union of collaboration, just make a phone call or look up an email.  You will definitely get more real usable help that way.
Yup, that's part of the plan.

Dude, you should probably talk to people who have already done it.  Joe Torchia and Nick Kelly in Ohio started an "official" school recognized club at Ohio State University almost 4 years ago.  Its been done so go ask how and try to recreate their success.  

No need to reinvent the wheel.  
AFAIK, they kinda got lucky. Of the universities Sam talked to directly, Ohio State was one of them. They said they really have no idea what they do. That is exactly what doesn't bode well for other schools attempting to create parkour clubs on campus. I obviously don't want to insult those guys or lessen what they accomplished, but that's what OSU told Sam. Plus, OSU is a state school, and as it says above, state schools have sovereign immunity so they don't really need to worry about their defense in court.


Don't get too quick to respond  ;)... I've been thinking about this for a month now. One of the reasons for coming here first is to get some support from the community... that's much more persuasive for clubs to follow whatever rules/guidelines we figure out than me alone saying they should do this. Another reason is that I want to this to be for the traceurs, by the traceurs. People have tried to formalize programs before all by themselves and were attacked. I want it to be fully apparent that this is going on and anybody who wants to contribute can do so.

Alec, he's asking you to show that you are following principles laid down by a recognized Parkour body. Why not just take Mark's assistance in this, and cite APK (with Mark's permission ofcourse) as the Parkour body he's looking for?
Mark is already in favor of such a thing, but it has to be much more formalized and official than how it seems you wrote it. AFAIK he is in SF right now for the Nat jam so I'm sure he'll be able to come and weigh in soon enough. I sent him a PM/email to get his attention, hopefully we'll be able to talk on the phone soon enough.


Also, I don't think I'll be able to provide much input on this, nor be able to derive any help from it myself, because the situation in my country is a lot, lot different [...]
Training is the same, yea? It's not so much about university rules that need to be followed as it is about simply formalizing a system about how to train people, beginners and up. I just mentioned you since I liked the teaching tips I've seen from you so far and you seem like a strong leader who would be reliable to work with if you decided to join in.


That said, I think this will be easier than I'm making it out to be. Surely it won't be perfect, but surely we can do as many revisions as we want of it.

But yeah, I chose to make posting here my first step just so people are in the loop. I definitely plan on contacting the club leaders at all of the universities, but I don't want to be just some guy... I'd comfortable with having some support and suggestions from the community first, as well as some solid direction. Know what I'm saying?

And sure, we (hopefully) know how to train and how to train others. What needs to happen though is that it needs to be put in writing... in some sort of official packet that people can see, use, and reference. The importance of that is in the part I quoted out of the meeting audio.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 12:20:33 PM by Alec Furtado »
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Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 04:36:49 AM »
Okay, fair enough, if that's the case, I'd be happy to help wherever I can.
We're already working on something similar to set up an formal body/association with these same kind of guidelines governing us here in India, so we might be able to exchange notes here.

Offline Gregory Milano

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2011, 12:34:09 PM »
i think i can help you out... we will be in touch
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Offline Brendan McEntee

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 07:31:25 AM »
Not to necro a dead thread, but if you still need help, I had a part in the creation of the club at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. We talked a lot about progression and about basic conditioning and practicing techniques in safe areas and with certain safety precautions. Also, if your school has a martial arts club you can tell them that the risk is similar to those. You can tell them (if it's true) that no one you have practiced with has ever gotten seriously injured doing parkour because you practice safely. Wentworth still put some height restrictions and told us we couldn't do some vaults, but generally it was accepted. Also, each year we get a little more room on what we can do. For example, last year we couldn't do flips, and this year we got them approved. Progression works for colleges too. Good luck!

Offline Gregory Milano

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 01:45:59 PM »
hey man id love to talk to you about the wentworth parkour group do you have an email? feel free to send me one at gregmmilano@gmail.com
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 10:05:06 PM »
Thanks for checking here. Unfortunately due to the ridiculous number of projects I currently have calling for my attention, I'm somewhat ignoring the University Parkour program for now. I'll hit you up if and when things calm down though!
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Offline Travis S

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Re: Leaders Unite - University Parkour
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 09:06:21 AM »
Hey man, hope you get some time, being in a college parkour club will change people's lives. If you need any advice, feel free to ask.