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Olympics

Step Aside, Squash And Cricket: Pole Dancing Should Be The Next Olympic Sport

It’s such a crazy idea, it just might work. We are apparently long past the era when pole dancing was an activity strictly reserved for strip clubs. With the proliferation of pole-dancing-themed workout classes and the International Pole Dancing Fitness Championships now in its second year, the “sport” has come a long way, baby.

Next stop: the Olympics.

According to Mai Sato, the reigning world champion pole dancer, the idea should not seem so far-fetched.

“I could definitely see pole dancing in the Olympics,” said Sato, who, a dancer since the age of three, out-twirled a bevy of athletes from 11 countries at the second International Pole Dancing Fitness Championships in Tokyo two months ago. “I would love to win a gold medal.”

Despite her opinion, the odds of pole dancing making it into the Olympics anytime soon is a long shot at best, but that isn’t preventing pole dancing advocates from making the push to have the activity be perceived as a competitive sport.

KT Coates, a leading pole dancer in Britain and director of Vertical Dance, is leading the effort to make pole dancing a “test” event in 2012 and foresees a more formal pitch in 2016, when the Olympics go to Rio de Jeneiro.

“After a great deal of feedback from the pole dance community, many of us have decided that it’s about time pole fitness is recognized as a competitive sport, and what better way for recognition than to be part of the 2012 Olympics held in London,” Coates wrote in a petition she is readying for the London organizers.

“It has the wow factor,” she told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Indeed it does. But critics – including many within the pole dancing community – do not see the likelihood, let alone the benefits, of striving at this point for Olympic consideration. The stigma attached to pole dancing being perceived solely as a seductive dance performed by strippers is just beginning to disappear, so what’s the rush?

Wendy Traskos, co-founder of the U.S. Pole Dance Federation (they have their own federation, so you know it’s legit) aspires for a day when straddling a long metal pole and sliding up and down on it upside down won’t have such a negative reputation:

“Now, when you talk about it you don’t hear ‘like a stripper’ anymore,” she said. “You hear things like, ‘Oh, my friend takes classes for fitness’ or ‘Yes, I’ve seen it on Oprah.”‘

Well, crap, if it has been on Oprah’s show, that’s all you had to say. I still do have a few questions: can one justify their participation in competitive pole dancing solely as a means of paying their way through college? Also, does having a handsy stepfather cause a woman to be more inclined to enter the world of competitive pole dancing? Just curious.

And if you are curious about what you can do to help the pole dancing as an Olympic sport movement, you can log on here to sign a petition pledging your unwavering support for this fledgling sport. Great idea, but unless they crank up their fundraising efforts, this movement will not go anywhere. I suggest raising money on a dollar by dollar basis. It just seems right, do you know what I mean?

Get ready sports fans, pole dancers eye Olympics [Sporting News/AP]