Pole dancers who find themselves constantly having to explain how much strength and agility it takes to swing your human body around a pole without plummeting to the ground have been vindicated.
As of early October, pole dancing was granted “observer status” by the Global Association of International Sports Federation, which means it’s conditionally recognized as a sport and may be a step closer to qualifying for Olympic competitions.
As The Washington Post notes, “Observer status is the first step international federations must achieve before becoming full GAISF members, which serves as a great boost for any sport hoping to one day land in the Olympics.”
In a statement earlier this month, Katie Coates, president of the International Pole Sports Federation, called the designation “a historical day for Pole Sports.” This week, she told the Telegraph, “I feel like we have achieved the impossible. Everyone told us that we would not be able to get pole-dancing recognized as a sport.”
It’s certainly a significant shift from five years ago, when Jezebel published a post about the IPSF’s struggle to get pole dancing into the Olympics. The obvious correlation to strip club dancers (dexterous in their own right) still gives pole dancing a sleazy reputation in the mainstream, even though it’s become as revered as gymnastics in certain corners, with official regulations set by the IPSF. WaPo reports:
The road to the Olympics isn’t short, however. Along with a recognized governing body, prospective sports must also gain separate recognition from the International Olympic Committee. Provisional IOC recognition lasts three years, during which committee members decide whether to give it full recognition. If successful, the sport’s governing body still needs to then petition to become an official Olympic sport, which can take several more years.
In addition to pole dancing, the GAISF recognized six other activities as sports, including arm-wrestling, dodgeball and something called FootGolf (a combination of soccer and golf), which is my new favorite sport.