Is Dance a Sport?
The endless debate between the dance world and the sports world is trying to decide where dance fits in. Dance does require athletic ability for the technique needed. However, dance does not fit completely into what is typically considered a sport. Some people say it cannot be called a sport and that it is an art instead.
In this argument, it is important to distinguish what type of dancing is being discussed, as there are many different types of varying levels of difficulty. Paige Abrams puts it this way: “You can dance at a club for fun, as a hobby, as a serious passion, or you can dance as a career” (2). Just as a person can play catch, which has some of the basic components as baseball, it is not considered a sport alongside baseball. In the same way, dancing for fun at a party or a club or even just dancing as a hobby cannot be categorized along with competitive or professional dance.
In trying to label dance as an art or a sport, the definition of what a sport is must first be established. However, defining what qualifies an activity as a sport is not an easy task. With so many different types of sports, each with its own set of rules it is hard to say what they all have in common. According to Dictionary.com, a sport is “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature” (qtd in Rice 1). Paige Abrams defines sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others” (2). These definitions are good at including every sport in the definitions, however they are not specific. There are other activities that are not considered sports that might qualify according to these definitions. One example would be a jump rope competition between two children at recess. It would be a physical activity that requires skill and they would be competing against each other, yet a jump rope completion is not considered a sport. So, there must be other restrictions on what a sport is. The problem with a more specific definition, however, is that, besides the characteristics of physical ability, skill, and competition, not all sports have the same characteristics. Some might consider a sport a game with a ball and a goal, but neither swimming nor track have either. There is also the idea that a sport must have two teams directly competing and interacting with each other, however archery and power lifting depend only on the athletes own ability to perform as they take turns, not in direct, head-to-head competition, where the teams affect the other team’s performance. Another common defining feature that is not always true is the method of scoring. It is believed by some that a sport is won by scoring the most goals, or doing a task the fastest or the most accurate. Not many sports are judged by a panel of judges. The winner in gymnastics, however, is determined in this way. They perform individually and are scored by a panel of judges, yet gymnastics is considered a sport and is even in the Olympics.
A definition of what a sport is that doesn’t leave any activity out or have any flaws is incredibly hard to obtain. Steven McLain found that some people see sports as “competitive athletic events that tend to inspire feelings of solidarity…sports serve a societal function - by creating bonds of loyalty between people” (1). According to this, sports should bring people together, whether it’s through being on a team together, or uniting to support a team.
Another way to limit the definition of a sport is to define what qualifies a person as an athlete. The Merriam Webster Dictionary states that an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina” (qtd in James 2). So, an athlete is simply someone who is in good condition and whose sport has given them “strength, agility, or stamina” (James 2).
A sport, therefore, is an activity...
Cited: Abrams, Paige. "The Great Debate: Is Dance a Sport?." Teen Life. Santa Rosa High, 2
Mar 2012. Web. Web. 3 March, 2013.
James, Aubree. "Dance-Is it a Sport?." Mibba. N.p., 2010. Web. Web. 28 March, 2013. Martin, Erica Lynn. "Dance IS a Sport...at Least in Terms of Injury." SiOWfa12: Science
in Our World: Certainty and Controversy. SC200, 26 Oct 2012. Web. Web. 7
McLain, Steven. "How do we Define Sport." Daily Barometer. 26 Feb 2013: 1-2. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.
Rice, Madison. "Is Dance a Sport?." Grizzly Gazette. 31 Jan 2012: 1. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.
Wagner, Molly. "Why I Dance: Molly Wagner." Dance Magazine. Mar 2013: 4-5. Web. 7
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