(Photo courtesy of Lauren Sung)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: Dance is a sport, and it’s my sport

I’ve known Daniel since literally forever, and despite being my best friend, he is the most annoying influence in my life. Why? He, a basketball jock, would always invite me to his games while I, a ballroom dancer, would always invite him to my shows.

Then much to my dismay — the arguments came, “Dance is obviously not a sport!” We each have made it our personal mission-slash-vendetta to convince the other otherwise. 

Of course, being a dancer myself, I believe, wholeheartedly, that it is a demanding and physically straining sport. I became very defensive when I learned that Daniel did not share the same beliefs as me and did not classify dance as a sport. I was angry, mostly because I give so much time and energy into making myself into a better athlete, and to not be appreciated on the same standards as a “typical” athlete is extremely frustrating. 

Alas, despite my own petty attempts at formulating a solid defense at Daniel, he wasn’t wrong per se. Most people categorize real sports as those that are nationally competed and broadcasted on television, including the NBA, MLB, and NFL. Other sports, such as gymnastics, curling, and figure skating only seem to be subjectively determined by the Olympics. 

However, as a dancer, I believe that this ubiquitous art form can be just as much of a sport as baseball or basketball. Personally, when training for competitions and shows, I use just as much physical strength and rigor as any other athlete would. Additionally, dance requires flexibility and grace along with all of the physical strain.

Similarly, gymnastics and ice skating are two Olympic sports that also require these skills, but dance is still not recognized as a sport. Even traditional athletes use dance to enhance their abilities in their own profession. For example, Steve McLendon is a football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but has also taken ballet lessons since he was a senior in college.

He says that the classes he went to were “harder than anything else [he] does,” which proves that dance is just as challenging, if not more, than other sports. Aside from this, McLendon also stated that “ballet has strengthened his knees, ankles and feet so much that he can tell the difference when he hasn’t taken ballet in a while.” This football player showed that dance was a big part of his success as an athlete, and contributed largely to why he performs so well.

Furthermore, there are several outrageous sports such as Curling, Bobsledding, and Shooting, that are considered sports despite the fact that they don’t meet the physical standards of a typical athlete. Distinctively, dance requires a tremendous amount of physical strain, while still being classified as an art form and competed at a professional level. 

Of course, trolls will always say outrageous things just to upset others, such as “Soccer and Baseball are not real sports, bro! Warriors Nation 4 Life…”  Likewise, Daniel’s arguments are fueled by the foundation of any competitive sport: the pride that my sport, team, or community is better than yours. This is an obviously absurd debate, fueled by rife testosterone and the very competitiveness of human nature itself.

So, if someone puts their blood, sweat, and tears into their chosen craft, they are definitely going to put a lot of pride into it, including their beliefs. That’s why the argument that I, a dancer, may not qualify as an athlete who plays a “real sport,” is so belittling to my very core. So, Daniel, please get off your pedestal and come watch my next show!