• But really: is it a sport?

    Getting ballroom dancing, under the name “DanceSport,” into the Olympics has been one of the goals of USA Dance since it was formed as the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association in 1965.  In 1997 the IOC recognized the International DanceSport Federation as the worldwide governing body for DanceSport and in 1999 the USOC recognized USA Dance as the governing body for DanceSport in America.  The next step would be for the IOC to grant “program status” to DanceSport.

    As a former (really bad) figure skater I recognize the pitfalls of making ballroom dancing a sport.  It could easily run into the same kinds of judging and scoring problems that have plagued the skating world in recent memory.  And some people simply would not take it seriously as a sport compared to purely physical pursuits with no aesthetic component and an objective standard for evaluating competitors.

    But as a dancer I see and agree with the arguments for ballroom dancing as a sport.  Dancers are highly trained athletes with incredible physical prowess and talent.  Inclusion in the Olympics could cement the popularity and prominence of ballroom, which has already been growing thanks to Dancing with the Stars, America’s Ballroom Challenge, and So You Think You Can Dance.   Dancers with no hope of ever competing at the Olympic level would still benefit from the increased participation that Olympic recognition would provide, and from the inspiration of seeing top dancers competing at the highest international level.  As for potential judging problems, the example of figure skating shows that when those problems exist, those dedicated to the sport will work to overcome them.

    I’m even willing to try to embrace the word “DanceSport,” which I think is corny–but at least it’s accurately descriptive.  We just happen do laps of cha-cha locks around the studio instead of running laps around the track.

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