Parallel Parking: A Sport For the Strong

Editor and sports enthusiast Joseph Howitt cheers as fellow editor Ella Pulscak attempts to top her personal best parallel parking job. Photo by Lucy Eckel.

A hush fell over the streets. A bead of sweat born out of an impassioned, focused lust for winning rolled down the athlete’s cheek as they exhaled softly. Now was the moment. It was now or never. If they didn’t park this car, who would? The answer: no one. 

In the crazy world of parallel parking, an athlete might be faced with multiple variations of the sport. Xtreme parallel parking is perhaps the most skillful and elite version of the game. The daring athlete attempts to swing into the space in one go while a string of cars lines the streets honking behind them. Unlike all other versions of parallel parking, the Winter Olympic games is the host of the strenuous art of parking in the snow. Parallel parking, as a versatile sport, can be played as a solo or team sport; athletes can play a game through as singles, doubles, triples or even up to eight players depending on the size of the vehicle (provided the vehicle is up to regulation). The fan favorite, Freestyle, consists of parking in a non-compact spot, with a unique variation of techniques.

Some athletes will approach it geometrically, calculating the precise angles at which to turn the wheel and the exact speeds at which to reverse and correct. Others will drive on instinct alone, letting chance be their guide. But in the end, the gold standard for any parallel parking athlete is backing in with one simple, singular, superb swing. 

The journey to becoming a professional parallel parker is not for everyone. When asked how Franklin students parallel parked, there were many responses that boil down to simply not participating. “Don’t do it. I’ll park anywhere no matter how far to avoid parallel parking,” says current junior Marlee Dorn. “Don’t. Search for another spot for an hour that’s easier to park in.” 

Although many high school students are still learning how to master this intense, rigorous sport, some have already become Junior Olympics material. A few anonymous students and recent graduates offer their advice for the learning process, saying “it’s ok to hit the curb,” and to “use the reflection of the car in building windows to help.” Cleveland High School student Bailey Steinmeyer gave the sage advice, “don’t use backup cameras.” Franklin graduate Lily Signori says, “forget that anyone is watching and send it.”

As we all know, this high stakes sport is not for the faint of heart; even queen Olivia Rodrigo can not parallel park (as referenced in her song “Brutal”). For those of you still on your journey to mastering parallel parking, take your time; this sport isn’t for everyone.

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