Can dance be considered a sport?
When listing off sports, many would raise their eyebrow at the mention of dance. This is despite the fact that dancers have just as rigorous training regimes as rugby players do, for example. For some reason, this art form is not considered to be under the same category as hockey, baseball or even Zumba.
So why is Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance-fitness programme) more widely accepted as a sport than dance itself? I believe the answer lies in the following three views:
1) Dance does not require as much physical strength.
If we look at traditional sports such as tennis, athletics and javelin, the common threads seems to be physical exertion, discipline and use of muscles. All of these characteristics apply equally to dance. Whilst it may look effortless, dance requires a lot of sweat and determination. Dance improves strength and stamina just as much as football and skiing do.
For this reason, it also boasts the same health benefits as many other sports; reduced stress, less risk of high blood pressure or of osteoporosis (a condition which weakens bones), to name but a few.
2) Dance has no overall goal or objective (as opposed to a runner who wants to beat a time, or a footballer who wants to score goals).
There are actually dance competitions but even if there weren’t, would it matter? Besides, I believe the aim of dance is to communicate a story/emotions, or purely to entertain.
3) Anybody can dance as it is a game of memory, not of skill.
Firstly, the same could be said of any sport. Secondly, some people are more naturally graceful and have more natural rhythm than others. Thus, to say a professional dancer does not require skill would be unjust.
From an early age I have tried my hand at ballet, tap, hip hop and contemporary dance, and I can safely say that I was at my fittest when I was dancing. Without dance, I would walk up a set of stairs slowly and start panting; with dance, I would stroll up those stairs with no problem. And this is just from doing a couple of hours of training a week! All things considered, I would definitely consider dance a sport.