Tuesday, May 18, 2010

athletes dominate Dancing with the Stars

I only catch a glimpse of it on occasion, but this is an interesting story-- in itself, and especially for those who follow the competition.

Here's Hannah Karp in the WSJ...

In the show's nine seasons so far, 19 jocks representing everything from beach volleyball to the National Football League have taken turns dancing with trained partners in a bid to impress the viewers and judges who determine the winners.

To say that they've dominated the show is an understatement. While athletes represent just 18% of the contestants, not counting this season, they've won five of the nine competitions, placed second three times and third once more. That works out to a collective success rate of 47%, which is far better than the rate for reality-show contestants (20%), supermodels (23%), soap-opera stars, politicians and people who are famous for being famous. The only group that compares is musicians, who've managed to claim eight spots on the podium...

The show wasn't imagined as a showcase for jocks. When it was launched in 2005, athletes were hardly the focus. In fact, half the year the show airs in the same time slot as "Monday Night Football." In the show's first season, heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield could only manage to place fifth.

But in season three, former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith shocked many viewers with his fancy footwork—earning rare perfect scores in the samba and cha cha cha. Since then, many athletes—even some who aren't retired—have started to see the contest as a competitive challenge.

In addition to Mr. Smith, racecar driver Helio Castroneves, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and gymnast Shawn Johnson have won the competition, and three former NFL stars, Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor and Jerry Rice, have captured second place. It's become such a phenomenon that more than 100 athletes (mostly football players) called the show's casting director last year to inquire about competing...


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