Americans strongly agree that wrestling should be in the Olympics, but other, less conventional sports - such as pole dancing - do not enjoy such support
An article in the Wall Street Journal last week highlighted the attempts that the organizers of "pole sports" - better known as pole dancing - have taken to legitimize their sport, includings hopes for it to eventually become a sport at the Olympics. The article in turn sparked discussion on the matter, including a less than serious discussion on the television show Fox & Friends.
New research from YouGov shows that Americans share Fox & Friends attitude towards pole dancing and do not think that it is an Olympic-caliber sport. But research also shows Americans feel that other sports currently not on the Olympic roster, notably wrestling, should be included at the Games.
In the survey, we first gave Americans a list of activities - archery, badminton, croquet, dressage, golf, lacrosse, pole dancing, polo, sailing, synchronized swimming, table tennis, wrestling - and asked whether they personally consider them to be sports. For most of the activities, Americans are firm in their belief that the activity is a sport, albeit with some hesitance for croquet.
Only two of the activities have more Americans who don't view them as sports than view them as sports. These are pole dancing and dressage - an equestrian sport where horse and rider perform a complicated routine.
On the question of what should be in Olympics, Americans are more selective. These preferences do not always match up with what's on the slate for the 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, though. Americans by a large margin support synchronized swimming and archery being in the Olympics, both of which will be featured at Rio. But they also oppose golf, badminton and dressage - all of which will have their place at the Rio Games - being Olympic sports.
At the same time, there are several sports which Americans strongly support for inclusion in the games, but which will be omitted in 2016 or 2020. Wrestling, which has been an Olympic sport since ancient times was eliminated from the 2020 games, but the majority of Americans (71%) support its inclusion and only 16% oppose it. Another sport which Americans strongly support for inclusion in the games is Lacrosse, which appeared at the 1904 and 1908 Games, but has not been an official sport since then.
Unsurprisingly, Americans are nearly uniformly opposed to the inclusion of pole dancing in the Olympic Games. 75% say that it should be an Olympic sport and only 11% say it should.