Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ballroom Dancing (DanceSport!), Synchronized Diving and the Meaning of Sport

I love watching the Olympics - but the Beijing Olympics are proving just how right I was back when I questioned whether Ballroom Dancing should be in the Olympics.
In yet another assault on all that is decent and traditional, the International Olympic Committee is considering adding Ballroom Dancing, a/k/a DanceSport (no, I'm not kidding) to the Olympics roster. Just what the world needs - another "sport" without a ball, without a goal, but with a panel of judges.
Hilariously, the new trend is to synchonize things. Synchronized swimming burst on the comedy scene several years ago, and now we've moved onto synchronized diving. It seems the proponents of silly non-sports have decided that if they can add more gimmicks and entertainment value to the activity, it will justify calling it an Olympic sport.

Obviously, it can't end there. I think the next trend will be to have a "Project Runway" competition added on to the activity. Participants will be called on to design their own costumes in less than 45 minutes using only materials supplied. Wouldn't that be hot tranny fun?

The difference between entertainment and sport is that sport has objective scoring - real scores based on real, non-subjective happenings. The other things are truly impressive physical activities, but they don't belong in the Olympics. The Olympic Motto is "Swifter, Higher, Stronger". The ancient Greeks didn't seek "Prettier, Perkier, More Graceful".

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Anonymous travel said...

Damn you just got me all excited ! I love ballroom dancing and Project Runway.

8/12/2008 7:44 AM  
Anonymous gmc70 said...


If it can't be objectively measured - in some way - it's not a sport. It might be difficult. It might be quite athletic.

But "artistic merit" is not sport.

8/12/2008 9:43 AM  
Blogger Lance Hafner Rocks said...

So they add Ballroom dancing and axe Baseball and Softball? Are the French in charge of the Olympics?

8/12/2008 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, maybe ballroom dancing and synchronized diving are just the next generation's Alaska and Hawaii. ;>

8/12/2008 1:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Travel -

That's nothing! I don't want to ruin my secret, but you're going to love my plans for the Winter Olympics! Just think about Bravo's "Shear Genius" in the context of couples' ice dancing. It will have suspense and drama, I promise.

Anonymous 1:18 =

I believe I've just been called an old fogey, and it was brilliantly done! Bravo - you win the award for the funniest and most convincing skewering of me in the last 6 months!

8/12/2008 9:27 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

It takes strength and training to execute a dive off of a platform , it takes incredible amounts of speed and precision to hit the vault at exactly the right angle and velocity to do a better vault than your competitors, it takes a higher jump to be able to turn in the air four times instead of three. To call these athletes entertainers is unfair, irresponsible, and spoken from a narrow point of view as someone who has never trained for competition in any of these sports. Belittling the hard work and absolute athleticism of these young people simply because of the nature of subjective judging, and implying they should be denied access to the most celebrated competition on the international stage (which is watched and revered more for its 'artistic' pageantry than anything else), is in vain and, indeed, antiquated.

In 'real' sports, you are competing against other people's ability to train and maximize the limits on their physical body (but more than likely, their ability to mix together the perfect cocktail of drugs and enhancements - but that's a whole 'nother argument) - in these 'subjectively-judged entertainment venues', you are not only competing against others' physical limits, you also have additional responsibilities - such as technique and execution and yes, God forbid we add a human element - expression - which enhance, not diminish, the competitive nature of these races as well as the physical and emotional capabilities of these athletes.

If 'swifter, higher, and stronger' are the only prerequisites for adding games in - I can't wait for Sudoku in 2012! I'm gonna kick me some Uzbekistan ass!!!

8/13/2008 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't take much strength or training to execute a dive off a platform, Sponge. Really, gravity does most of the work. It takes a little strength to climb the stairs, but after that it's mostly just falling.

Now, doing some of those fancy dives might take a little strength, but when you claim that "It takes strength and training to execute a dive off of a platform", you're overstating the case.

8/13/2008 12:00 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

anonymous - I'm sure those divers are going to be really excited to learn that. All that time and effort they've put into their training can go towards something useful - like curling.
Thanks for keeping me informed.

8/13/2008 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Sponge. I should have acknowledged that it does take tons of training to do one of them thar fancy dives. But I was right about the amount of strength required - the gravity does all the work.

There's nothing wrong with the entertainers putting time and effort into diving - it's kind of like learning to be really good at the tuba, but a whole lot less strenuous than carrying a damned tuba around.

8/13/2008 12:18 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

anon -
It takes an incredible amount of strength to be able to execute, control, flip, twist, and enter the water with nary a splash. Muscles are built to achieve the skill, muscles are contracted to complete it. (Falling, I do agree, takes no effort at all.)
It takes an incredible amount of courage to sign your name to an argument.

I challenge you to either.

8/13/2008 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Sponge Bath said...

I agree that it would take me days, maybe even weeks, to learn to do those fancy-schmancy dives. But I could execute A dive pretty easily. Does a belly flop count? Cannon ball? Swan dive?

Did "KC Sponge" just challenge me to sign my name? Your just joshin with me aren't you?

8/13/2008 1:12 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

swan dive - sure.

Sponge did challenge you. Anonymous is different then alternate identity - at least I could make fun of your name. But in the I interest of fairness, Sandie is my name. Sponge just has a better ring to it.

8/13/2008 1:19 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

swan dive - sure.

Sponge did challenge you. Anonymous is different then alternate identity - at least I could make fun of your name. But in the I interest of fairness, Sandie is my name. Sponge just has a better ring to it.

8/13/2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sponge - I don't deny that diving would be kind of challenging. Much less challenging than weightlifting or swimming, but probably a little harder than something like marksmanship or curling.

But difficulty is not the essence of sport. It takes years of training to be able to paint a convincing nude, but I don't see figure painting in the Olympics.

Your entire argument, Sponge, is based on the fact that it's hard to do the nonsports. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. As you point out, I haven't trained for any of the nonsports, though I have taken a few ballroom dancing lessons (I pretty much mastered it after 4 lessons, but I never thought of myself as an athlete for doing so).

There are lots of things that are difficult, but aren't sports. If you need a judge to tell you that you were successful, you're doing entertainment, not sports. There's nothing wrong with entertainment, and most of them are better at their acts than I would be. So what?

And even you have to admit the synchronization thing is stupid, don't you?

8/13/2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger KC Sponge said...

Actually Dan, using your prerequisites of swifter, higher, and stronger, I was trying to show you that yes, if you are faster, if you are stronger, and you are 'higher' - you will be more successful at these sports you only qualify as entertainment only because of the conditions of their judgement. The divers are next to the swimmers in the weight room, the figure skaters are in the same rink as the hockey players - usually earlier, stating later.
An umpire stands behind home plate to judge whether or not a pitch is good just as the judge sits on the panel counting required elements in a rhythmic gymnastics routine. Varying levels of achievement are present in every sport, just as subjective judgement plays a role in each. Just because you can't use objective calls to determine if one element is better than another does not take that classification away. Just as a pop warner player learns the game of football and has been taught how to throw a pass or even 'mastered' a punt and we would not expect himto go play at Arrowhead, I will not take you seriously when you say you have mastered ballroom dancing because you learned the steps to the foxtrot.
If these 'performers' were only concerned about your entertainment, I would understand your qualifcation of them, but they strive every day to b better tomorrow - swifter, higher, stronger, and pushing the limits of their physical body to beat thor competitor. It's not difficulty I speak of, it's pure physicality.

8/13/2008 10:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Digging ditches is not a sport, though it's even more physical than many sports.

Similarly, pushing your buttons is not a sport, though I think I'm excelling at it right now . . .


It's simple, Sponge. Judging negates sport, though it doesn't mean that it's not a challenging activity, and often entertaining (though if I never see a synchronized dive in my life, I'll be happier).

A strike is a strike - an ump might call it wrong, but that's a mistake, not a matter of impression. And if gymnastics were a matter of how fast they did their floor exercise, and if synchronized diving was a measure of how many spins they got done before hitting the water, and if ballroom dancing (or Dancesport! - that just cracks me up every time I type it) was about how many times they could spin or how high they could jump or something objective, I'd be happy to recognize them as sports.

Until there's an objective reason that someone wins, it's just a glorified Project Runway.

8/13/2008 10:33 PM  
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