Why break dancing is on the verge of becoming an Olympic sport

It has been decades in the making, but break dancing may soon have a stage at the Olympics. The Olympic committee has dubbed breaking a provisional sport after a unanimous vote, and is scheduled to vote in December of 2020 on whether or not to include it in the 2024 games in Paris. For breakers, this is an opportunity to show the world their craft, grow their sport and create a movement even larger than the one they already have. 

CBS Sports spoke with Antonio Castillo, chairman of the USA Breaking Committee who says breaking is the perfect addition to the Olympics. “It has everything an Olympic sport needs,” he said, adding that’s it’s colorful, fun to watch, has excitement behind it and predicts it will one day be a main event.

Talking about the athletes, he says, “They’re doing amazing stuff and it’s not things that a regular person can do.” 

Being in the center of it all, he sees just how hard the dancers work and knows if a gold medal was on the line they would only elevate their dances even more.

Castillo said:

“It doesn’t matter what type of format you put it into, it still looks raw, it still looks like a street dance, it still looks fun, and that really is what attracts a lot of people to it.”

While they wait to see if the sport will be included in 2024, they are doing everything but sitting still. 

For now, the goal is to show the Olympic committee they “have themselves together” and would be ready for such a big stage. To do this, they have started by creating a rulebook and are ensuring all athletes are brought through the system as an Olympic athlete would be. 

USA Breaking also wants to put themselves in a position so if they were to get the green light from the Olympics, they would have athletes and a team in place ready to go. 

Whenever it does become an Olympic sport, they don’t just want to show up, they want to “have a national team that not only is eligible and qualified, but can go to the Olympics and win a gold medal.”

The first steps to this have been creating a uniform way of scoring, which they have done. Like any sport where you can’t win by crossing the finish line first or scoring the most points with a ball, they have created specific ways for judges to rank the dancers. 

From footwork to power moves, freezes, transitions and bonus points for difficult tricks, dancers are scored by three judges in each category and the score is averaged for their final number.

After regionals, the dancers will head to nationals, which were scheduled to take place sometime this summer, but will now be moved back due to the coronavirus, where the top dancers will form the first-ever USA national breaking team.

Castillo said they could not be more excited and this is something they are not taking lightly, “These guys are real athletes and there’s pride in their dance and there’s pride in representing the country.”

They are hoping to have around six dancers from each age group and each gender. The age groups are 5-12, 13-17 and 18 and older.

Castillo says, of course, the Olympics will have their own ways of handling the competition and scoring, but he hopes they are able to work with USA Breaking in order to keep the integrity and authenticity of the style.

“Our goal is to have a say and have a voice in it because this is the birthplace, so we want to be involved in that process and hopefully we’ll influence it even at that level,” he said. They want to make a difference “all the way up.”

“Breaking is a part of American history, it has the roots so we just want to make sure it’s represented well,” he said.

Their community is well aware that something like this takes time and there will be changes to come. 

“Right now all we can do is develop from the ground up. And then hopefully we’ll meet halfway and we’ll be ready to adjust for whatever has to be adjusted,” Castillo said.

There is always the chance the Olympics do not push breaking through for 2024. 

When asked why the Olympics might not add breaking, Castillo said they could need to see more organization in the sport, because there needs to be a sustainable base. They hope to make a foundation that makes this sport successful long-term, so rushing it is not something they want to do. 

Whether 2024 is the inaugural year for breaking or not, they will not stop pushing to expand their passion to larger audiences. “This is a movement, this is not gonna stop whether it’s an Olympic sport or not. We’re still going to create a national team,” Castillo said. 

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