Updated: Feb 23, 2019
Hopeful sports are vying to get on the Olympic platform for many reasons, but the big one is coverage. Having a sport shown to the entire planet can change the face of a sport forever. The Olympic viewership alone creates a gigantic burst of interest and the sport sees a surge in participation, sponsorships and generally some new cash flow. This statement makes some of us in the pole dance community happy and frightens others.
Pole’s acceptance from the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) as “observer” status is the first step toward full acceptance by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)and the nudge that could propel pole in the Olympic games. It’s time to consider what this reality of the Olympics would do for the sport. There is a better article to explain the Olympic selection process (LINK).
Let’s discuss the pluses of going to the Olympics. The exposure is a game changer for any sport. Millions of viewers all over the world get to see the highest form of the sport. Pole is flashy and fun to watch, much like ice skating, and it’s a bit controversial which most likely will only flame curiosity of viewers. Pole showing up at the Olympics would not be a quiet affair, pole is not a discreet sport.
The Olympics legitimizes a sport and turns heads so that new viewers take a sport seriously. This could be great for the pole industry and the sport as a whole. Interest, and let’s be honest, money attract higher caliber athletes. Being featured in the Olympics, leads to sponsorships for athletes, endorsements and the potential to have pole on a Wheaties box. The sport may become more standardized and monetized, but this means that the coaching improves. Higher quality training will lead the sport to flourish and grow.
One of the largest benefits would be safety because standards are set and developmental learning methods are organized and taught to coaches. Progression is done with method and in a system. This methodology will end up pushing the sport to new levels as athletes are trained more consistently with better techniques. Pole has been growing harder each year and pushing new limits with difficulty. An Olympic push could jumpstart a new era in pole.
I know that some of us fear change and fear the transformation of our beloved sport into a form of gymnastics with 12-year-olds winning medals. The reality is, this may be the future of Olympic pole athletes. Certain body types have advantages in gymnastic sports, hence the reason gymnastic coaches seek out women with the gymnastic build ( small, strong, muscular). Sorry, but someone with this body type does have advantages in aerial arts and pole and gymnastics and ice skating. It does not mean that those of us without this genetic predisposition cannot achieve great things in pole, we just may have to work a bit harder. You don’t put an NFL linebacker into gymnastics, you don’t put a professional gymnast into the defensive of line of a professional football game. All bodies are composed differently and with different innate athletic qualities.
There is an argument that the Olympics would crush the artistry of pole. The Olympic boom that happens to a sport after the event will most likely attract athletes who will push artistic creativity. Ice skating is artistic and athletic and has survived the Olympics.
In the near future pole studios may be more like gymnastics gyms, there may be strong children’s programs with sanctioned competitions. Sexy adult pole may slink off to the side, but then again maybe not. Most likely the two will continue to co-exist in some manner and many students may still be coming to pole for themselves without Olympic dreams.