Parkour Is Not a Crime (Except When It Is)

Florida communities move to ban the urban sport

Image
Reuters

It’s kinda like skateboarding, only without the skateboard. Known as parkour or freerunning, it’s an urban sport that basically consists of running around and jumping on, off of, over and through architecture and pieces of the built environment. Its acrobatic enthusiasts will bound like gymnasts down from rooftops, off of trees and over fountains in cities all over the world.

But for some communities in Florida, the sport is increasingly unwelcome. As the The Sun Sentinel reports, Florida State University has instituted an outright ban on parkour, which many students and locals had been practicing on the campus. The city of Margate, Florida, has followed suit and officially banned parkour from its public parks.

Though no injuries have been reported, the city’s attorney is worried that someone will get hurt and the city will get sued.

But parkour enthusiasts, like skateboarders, are less interested in filing lawsuits over injuries than in using the urban realm as a playground. A recent film, My Playground, looks at parkour as a form of understanding and participating in the built city.

And the phenomenon is growing. Originally developed in France, the act of parkour spread throughout Europe and recently into the U.S., where some organized groups have formed, including within Florida.

According to the Sun Sentinel, local Florida groups plan to continue to practice parkour, even under threat of breaking the law. The city of Margate is reportedly willing to compromise, offering to designate a section of one of its public parks to parkour. But, like skateboarding, much of the thrill of the sport is in finding places and physical elements within the city not necessarily meant for parkour. And then jumping off them.

[Hat tip: Planetizen]

Photo credit: Tarek Mostafa / Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.