Tag Archives: Sports Nation

Worlds Collide: Athletes and “Dancing with the Stars”

This is a beautiful moment. The moment where I get to write about sports and dance in the same post. Let’s take a moment of silence to commemorate how special this is…

Okay. Done.

The hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars has been including athletes in their cast line up since the very beginning, but most of the these athletes were only known to the truest and most devoted of sports aficionados. However last season included recently retired Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner and this season recently announced the participation of current 2-time Super Bowl champion Hines Ward.

Warner needed something to do post retirement. Previous athletes were looking for a reputation boost. But Hines Ward? He just appeared in his third Super Bowl, which despite the loss, was one of the best match-ups anyone had seen in years. Besides, he already had won two others (one of them coming against Warner himself). Most men I know would just like two tickets somewhere in the same stadium as the Super Bowl. Others, the same city would suffice.

But athletes love challenges. And more so, they love competition. With the show’s rising popularity, most people now consider DTWS a mainstream network show, not a B-list summer filler allowing more and more publicists to allow their clients on it without having a heart attack. Swallowing pride is not necessary. Just some Gatorade and protein powder. That Argentine tango has a few tricky lifts.

More so, this is a mutually beneficial relationship. As long as your player is by definition a “good guy” this creates the optimum environment for positive PR and the show brings in an entirely new demographic of viewers. Do I have say it? Money talks. People listen.

So no big deal right? Hines Ward doesn’t really need DTWS, but he wants it. And it couldn’t hurt either him or the show. Right? Right?

Michelle Beadle of Sports Nation on ESPN said earlier this week she was actually “embarrassed” for these athletes. All she sees is a desperate publicity stunt. I must ask Michelle something:

Have you ever even tried to dance?

Forget keeping up with professionals. Forget doing it well enough so you don’t fall on your face on national television. Let’s start with the idea of seriously trying to dance. And I’m not talking about the dougie…

One of the reasons I can relate to the athletes I work with on a daily basis is my dance background. I can’t help but empathize as I sit here icing my pulled hamstring that I’ve been trying to nurse back to health before an audition on Saturday. This is my NFL combine. Errrr…. minus the national attention and the 40-yard-dash.

I’ve been a ballet dancer for almost 16 years, but I just recently started salsa dancing. Salsa can fall under the “ballroom” category (Can you see where I’m going with this? Or I do I need fluorescent paint?). I thought nothing could be quite as difficult as ballet. And maybe that’s true, but that doesn’t mean its not difficult. On the contrary, I was learning skills and using muscles in ways I never thought I would. And I’ll admit it, in the beginning, I sucked. There is no nice way to put it. I couldn’t let my partner take the lead. I would get turned around at the drop of a hat. And I was like a whirling dervish trying to stop after a spin. But I kept practicing, invested in the right shoes and now I only hit my partner in the nose every other time we go out to a salsa club. Progress.

The point being, if DTWS is nothing more than a publicity stunt then it must be one of the hardest in the world in which only the most desperate characters decide to go on. But more likely, its a chance to improve one’s athleticism while having a hoot and keeping in shape during the off season. The good publicity just turns out to be the icing on sequined outfits.

I will admit one thing. I will not be rooting for Hines Ward to win, but rather to come in second. Another athlete of sorts, current rapper and former USC basketball player Percy “Romeo” Miller is a fellow Trojan and former acquaintance of mine (As in he introduced himself one day when I was waiting to interview another player. We talked a couple times when occupying the same space or nodded in acknowledgment of the other’s presence). I thus feel compelled to keep it in all the family. We already have Heismans, crystal footballs and crosstown gauntlets. I say it’s time for a disco ball trophy in Heritage Hall.

Kurt Warner showed that all MVP QBs have great footwork last fall on DTWS.


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