This past summer’s 2016 Rio Olympics fell flat on its back, suffering staggering losses in viewership and TV ratings, especially among younger demographics.
In an effort to reinvigorate its dwindling television audience and potentially reach out to disinterested millennials, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is introducing two new and unconventional sports into the mix: cheerleading and breakdancing.
Breakdancing will hit the Olympic scene first, making its preliminary debut at the upcoming 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. Seemingly hoping to capitalize on global youth’s interest in hip-hop culture, the IOC calls breaking “…a unique sport that embodies music and expression through movement to music.”
Breakdancing is one of the traditional “four pillars of hip-hop”, along with rapping, DJing and graffiti.
You may be wondering how breakdancing will be incorporated into a competitive setting. Apparently, twelve male and twelve female dancers – ages 16-18 – will compete over two days. The competition will be broken down into three events — men’s, women’s and mixed-team — with dancers facing off in a battle format that will be judged and scored.
Seems straightforward enough, right? We’ll have to wait and see how it’s received in Buenos Aires two short summers from now.
Long regarded as a staple feature of American athletic culture – from high school to college all the way to the big leagues – cheerleading is on its way to being recognized as an official Olympic sport. There’s already an annual cheerleading World Championship tournament, so why not incorporate the sport into the world’s largest athletic event?
The International Cheer Union was just granted IOC funding and developmental support – the first important step towards official inclusion in the Olympics – and in three years’ time, the IOC will vote on whether or not to include the increasingly popular (and athletically demanding) sport in the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Considering the uproar the 2016 USA womens’ gymnastics team generated, it shouldn’t be a surprise if cheerleading attracts a whole new audience and stokes some fresh interest in the Olympic Games.