Breaking, the official name for competitive breakdancing, will become an Olympic sport for the first time at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee, in a bid to keep the Olympics relevant in future, has lately taken a spree of decisions which have been refreshing and inclusive at the same time. In addition to “Breaking” making it debut for 2024 Olympics, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing have been added for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
But hold on.
Break-Dancing? As a sport?
Let’s get into it.
Break dancing is a hip-hop dance style born in the 1960s and has since gone from the clubs to the mainstream. It originated in New York City and was popularized by African American and Puerto Rican youths, called b-boys and b-girls.
Breaking is most easily categorized as a style of dance, but it more easily lends itself to the realm of sports than other styles because it is inherently competitive.
“It’s a precise, hard-earned skill requiring strength, quickness, agility, rhythm, style and creativity.” – Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, one of the all-time great B-boys.
Breaking competitions typically consist of one-on-one battles, with three rounds apiece. Each battle features alternating bursts of flips, spins, kicks and freezes in which one competitor breaks for about 30 to 45 seconds, and the other responds. A group of three to five judges then pick a winner to advance to the next round.
While much of the breaking community has embraced its inclusion at the Olympics, some have expressed concerns — that breaking’s culture is being compromised, or that it’s authenticity will get twisted in the transition.
“There’s a fear that Olympic judges, for example, might come to value technical difficulty over other intangible qualities that make breaking unique, such as passion, and originality.” – says ESPN’s Jesse Washington.
Though it will be new to the Olympics, breaking has been at the center of international events for more than a decade. Energy drink company Red Bull has been hosting an annual breaking competition called Red Bull BC One.
The Olympics, of course, will bring more visibility to breaking — and bring its top athletes more opportunities.
Break dancing has always had an element of competition, and it seems that the International Olympic Committee agrees. At the Paris Games, 32 athletes (16 men and 16 women) will compete in one-on-one break challenges. Breaking can now flip, glide and spin alongside such athletic cousins as gymnastics and ice skating at the Olympics.
“Think about it like boxing,” said Bobbito Garcia, a longtime New York City culture creator and member of the Rock Steady Crew, a legendary hip-hop collective that spread worldwide in the early 1980s.
“You’re stepping into a ring. You’re about to battle another warrior,” Garcia said. “The mental fortitude required, coupled with the athleticism — hell, yeah, breaking is a sport!”
The International Olympic Committee have been shrewd in including Breaking for Olympics to be conducted in France, a country with more than 1 million breaking followers!