What is a sport? Oxford dictionary defines the term as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Some popular team sports include basketball, football, and baseball. Some individual sports include fencing, swimming, and gymnastics. What do all these have in common? They are considered official sports– they are included in the Olympics, NCAA, and are generally credited in high school. Unlike these sports, dance is not considered an official sport. There are no dance categories as of now at the Olympics and NCAA, and most high school dance teams do not offer sports credit. You may wonder, why is this the case? There is no real answer to this question. Dance is undeniably one of the most challenging sports and should be officialy recognized as one. Here is why.
Dance falls under every aspect of the definition of sports; it involves stamina, flexibility, acrobatics, grace, technique, and countless other athletic aspects. Let’s begin by talking about why dance fits into the category of sports. If you have seen dance, whether it be through Dance Moms, World of Dance, or even your cousin’s dance recital, chances are that you thought “I could never do that” or “how are they so flexible?” It’s no secret that dance requires a lot of skill. To be a good dancer, there are so many things to think about: maintaining technique, having musicality, perfecting all your tricks and turns, showing emotion, and having stamina to keep up the rigorous performances. For example, take a look at Brynn Rumfallo’s solo “Botched” from Dance Moms. The whole time, Brynn’s technique is stellar, all her leaps are in oversplits, her musicality is perfect, she handled the prop well, her acrobatics and flexibility were on point, and to top it off, and she kept up emotion and energy the whole time. What about this isn’t a sport? Are the split leaps and kicks that require insane flexibility and the turns that require extreme precision not athletic enough? What Brynn did required a great deal of skill and athleticism, comparable to and maybe even more than any other official sport.
In addition to athleticism, dance requires versatility. It isn’t enough to be a one trick pony; dancers generally train in multiple styles and have to excel at all of them if they would like to win major titles. Many competitive dancers train over 7 hours a day in ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, tap, and ballroom. Each and every one of these styles is so different from the rest and takes years of practice to master. Ballet is the style of dance about precision and control while contemporary highlights fluidity, and emotion. Jazz showcases energy and acrobatics while hip hop emphasizes stamina and sharpness. Tap is all about quick feet and musicality while ballroom is about sass and movement quality. And for each of these styles, there are completely different technical guidelines dancers have to follow. Under this perspective, dance is most definitely a sport because in addition to requiring immense stamina and athleticism, dancers must excel at a variety of completely different styles and train hard to master each of them.
Despite being underrated for many decades, dance is finally getting the recognition it deserves. At the 2024 Olympics, break dancing is currently scheduled to be a sport. Many schools are contemplating making their dance teams official sports teams. And hopefully, more people will start watching and appreciating how crazy talented dancers are. So the next time you’re bored, why don’t you watch an episode of Dancing With the Stars? I guarantee that you’ll be inspired by how talented the dancers are!