Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dance should be an Olympic sport

Zachary Weishar/ Collegian

During the 2012 Olympics this summer, I got into a heated discussion with members of my family about which aspects qualify a sport to be a ‘sport’.

My cousins believe that any sport necessitating a judge is too subjective to be considered a real sport. Evidently, the rest of the world disagrees because of the existence of gymnastics in the Olympics.

My rebuttal is this: ‘What is the difference between a judge and a referee?’ Of course, the clock doesn’t lie, so with sports such as swimming and running, I see no justifiable debate. All an official does is start and stop the watch. But when comparing a referee to a judge, I find it hard to determine any major distinctions.

Throughout the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat this summer, for example, there were many plays in which the clock was stopped while the referees attempted to determine the fate of a particular play, the same way a judge might score a dancer’s performance, therefore determining the fate of his or her score.

Many times during the game between the Celtics and the Heat, the ball was clearly knocked out by a member of the Heat and yet the play would be re-played seven times before the refs finally returned the ball to the Celtics.

I’m not going to say that the referees were biased when it came to making their calls, but I’m also not going to say that they judged fairly on many plays.

On another note, the whole debate regarding “What makes a sport a sport?” stemmed from my question, “Why isn’t dance an Olympic sport?”

I grew up trying to play everything from T-ball to basketball, soccer to track and cross-country to swimming. Some I stuck with and others I dropped.

Throughout all the years, though, I danced.

I have been dancing since I was a 2-year-old and my mom constantly informs me that I was ‘in my diapers’ for my first recital. When I was younger I would get frustrated when my friends, dad, or cousins would look down upon the activity of dance and regard it as less of an activity than one such as softball.

The word “sport” is defined as, “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Dance is an activity. Dance incorporates physical exertion and skill. I have competed at shows such as “Starbound”, “American Dance Awards” and “Showstopper.”

Therefore, there is a circumstance in which an individual dancer or a team of dancers competes against each other.

Moreover, these competitions are not only for personal enjoyment, but also for entertainment. In this example, I believe that dance can be classified as a sport. None of my cousins, aunts, uncles or anyone else agreed with me.

Others in my family thought that anything in the Olympics is a sport by default. At the time, we were watching the gymnastics events. While my cousins were arguing that activities with judges aren’t real sports, I replied that gymnasts performed in ways that most of us cannot.

In conclusion, I am not opposed to gymnastics or ice skating being in the Olympics, but I do feel that dance is comparable to the two. When it comes down to the basics of major sport, almost anyone can kick a soccer ball or play table tennis without getting injured. However, a majority of the people could not do a pirouette without getting hurt.

Maybe in 2016 we’ll have Olympic Dancers.

Samara Abramson is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].


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    BenOct 12, 2012 at 12:58 am

    > But when comparing a referee to a judge, I find it hard to determine any major distinctions.

    It seems pretty easy to distinguish between an activity where a small group of people enforce the rules and one where they decide the score, even if it’s a little blurrier in practice.

    But maybe the whole judgment distinction was just a rationalization, and your family members were really operating from a gut sense of “it just doesn’t feel right”. We generally get our notions of what belongs in a category through some intuitive feeling, not through a rationally constructed taxonomy. (The ways we associate sports with masculinity feed into this. People tend to perceive football as being very manly; gymnastics? Not so much.)

    The differences between dance and track probably aren’t as significant as the differences between track and, say, football. The former features no direct competition between the participants, whereas the latter is fundamentally competitive.