Is Dance Not a Sport?

Is dance not a sport? Whether it is a sport or not is an ongoing debate that has been going on for years according to Evening Standard London newspaper dance critic, Lyndsey Winship.  This topic has been brought into light especially with the rise in dance competitions and college dance athletes. In fact, many people, especially other sports athletes argue that it is not a sport because of the frilly costumes and the artistic aspects. But now it has taken a different turn, it has become a competitive sport.   

Sport, by definition according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical ability and often of a competitive nature.”  As mentioned in an article by Dance Facts and History, professional dance today is one of the most demanding physical abilities and sports. A lot of strength is needed to move through the complicated moves.  It has been scientifically proven that dancers are some of the strongest athletes. “Dancers are some of the toughest athletes in the world!” said Dr Jill McNitt-Gray, a kinesiologist and professor at the University of Southern California, in an article written about Dance Sport.

Many sportsmen and women believe that because dancers look elegant and are flexible, compared to other sports, they have no stamina or strength.  However, McNitt-Gray, who has observed dancers throughout many years argues otherwise. Despite looking too fragile and elegant to be considered a sport, dance is a very physically engaging sport and requires hours of training for multiple years in order to achieve professional status.  A lot of hard work is put into making the strenuous movements look graceful. “For example, I have noticed that latin ballroom dancers can move their feet up to 15 miles per hour and turn over one hundred times per minute,” Nitt-Gray said.

Misty Copeland, a prominent soloist ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre and Under Armour ambassador, said in an interview with News One, “We are athletes too! And it is so great that Under Armour recognizes this enough, that they would ask me to be a sponsor.”  Under Armour manufactures footwear and sportswear. Compared to other athletes in terms of physical abilities, dancers tend to have more aerobic capacity, higher muscular endurance to be able to lift their legs really high, a higher endurance for spending longer periods of time working their muscles, higher flexibility, and better agility, as a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows.  Therefore, dancers are right up there ability-wise with football and baseball players, but much receive less attention according to the study.

And just like every other sport, there are competitions to help showcase their talent.  There are competitions taking place almost every month in every state within the United States.  There are over 50 different dance competitions that take place here in the United States. It is also possible to travel and compete for your country in competitions in internationally recognized competitions such as the World Dance Championship, World Hiphop Championship and the Dance World Cup which will be held in Braga, Portugal in 2019.  

Dance has been incorporated into Olympic sports such as gymnastics and ice-skating.  Unlike most competitive sports such as basketball, hockey and football where running is the basics, dance has become one of the forms of basic training for competitive gymnasts and ice-skaters.  According to an article posted by Pinnacle Gymnastics, dance improves the connecting of moves from one to another. It improves posture, arm and leg positions, and the pointing of toes. 

The deep squat, curve of the hand, height of the jump, speed and agility: all of these phrases may be used to describe an athlete. People watch in awe as a players hand curves just perfectly around a basketball to score a layup. Track and field athletes will spend hours practicing to clear the height of their hurdles without falling. And football players will engage in an intimate squat with one another as they prepare to be cued to run with all the speed and agility in their body to catch the football. The same could be said for dance.

Although there are many statistics that can prove scientifically that dance is technically a sport, it is hard to change the mindsets of so many people.  Whether a sport is a sport or not really depends on personal experience, opinion and popularity. American football players may think rugby is not a sport, although the two sports are basically the same.  The same could be said for aerobic and trampoline gymnastics because it is not considered an olympic sport, although there are many sports that are not apart of the olympic games.