Not Every Sport Wants the Olympics December 06 2020
Though Joe De Sena (CEO) doesn’t lobby to make Spartan Race an official Olympic sport as much as he used to, it’s undoubtedly still an aspiration. Meanwhile, members of the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF) have the exact opposite problem. Joining the Olympics is the last thing they want for their sport right now.
No Olympic Dreams?
Like Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), freerunning/parkour involves speed, athleticism, and obstacles. WFPF’s resistance to joining the world’s biggest stage for international competition comes down to the question of who gets to define what parkour really is. A competing organization, Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (F.I.G.), is in its final meetings with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to get parkour approved. However, F.I.G. is a gymnastics organization who simply views parkour as a great introduction and gateway for younger audiences to become interested in more traditional gymnastics. Parkour purists, like those from WFPF, naturally feel that F.I.G. is hijacking their sport and fear that acceptance as an Olympic event will forever make gymnastics experts the authoritative body over parkour.
Spartan Race in the Olympics?
Now, let’s get back to Spartan. De Sena has always pushed to get, “Spartan Race as an Olympic event.” Some in the community have scoffed at his apparent arrogance for not framing a more inclusive initiative to get Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) into the Olympics. That’s the thing. Joe doesn’t own OCR; he owns Spartan. As good as it is for his brand, not hijacking the language of all OCR is also good for competing brands like Savage Race and Conquer the Gauntlet. Those brands and their legions of fans don’t need or want Spartan Race or the (IOC) dictating what is and isn’t OCR.
Since this is really an international conversation, MudGear will play the role of Switzerland - we’re neutral. If Spartan Race becomes an Olympic event, we’ll be watching and cheering every four years. If some broader version of OCR is adopted, we’ll love that too. If neither ever become Olympic events, we’ll continue loving our niche and inviting everyone we can to experience it for themselves.