Inside Events: USA Breakin’ | Sports Destination Management

Inside Events: USA Breakin’

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May 19, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Dr. Jonathan M. Fields | DJ Trails, Development Director

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www.usabreakin.org

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USA Breakin’ is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is the official national sporting organization for breakdancing (breakin’) in this country. USA Breakin’ committed to providing fair representation for U.S. breakers at international events and to creating a platform to select and form a U.S. Breakin' team that truly represents the U.S. breakin' community and the legacy of Hip-Hop culture, born right here in the United States.

USA Breakin' is committed to promoting and developing breakin' at the grassroots and national levels, as well as providing safe, empowering and positive training environments and serving as a resource center for members, crews, fans and competitors throughout the United States.

B-girl dancing at Pro-AmUSA Breakin' is committed to providing continuing education for new and experienced professional members including coaches, instructors and officials. USA Breakin' sanctions four categories: Youth (12 and under), Teen (13-17), Adult/Pro (18-34) and Legacy (35 and above).

Sports Destination Management: The sport of breakdancing is going to be featured in the Olympics in Paris in 2024. How do you think that will influence the sport’s growth in the USA?

Jonathan Fields: That’s a really good question. The sport started out in the 1970s, but it really gained prominence in the 80s. It then faded from the spotlight in the U.S., but it never really left. If you look at some of the dance shows on TV or in the movies, you’ll see it there.

Something a lot of people in the U.S. might not realize is breakin’ debuted as a sport in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in 2018. If all goes well, seeing it in Paris should really help it gain a lot more visibility.

SDM: Would you like to see it in the Olympics in L.A.?

Fields: We’d love to see it picked up as a future Olympic sport permanently but in the meantime, yes, it would be nice to have it come back to America where it all started.

SDM: What is the competitive season like?

Fields: We have qualifying events throughout 2022. They started in April and run through the end of October. Our finals are in Miami on December 4.

SDM: Is it hard for the sport, and as an extension, its athletes to gain recognition right now?

B-Boy dancing for crowd
All photos courtesy of USA Breakin'

Fields: I don’t know that it’s a household name and it doesn't have the instant recognition the way basketball or football does, but these are extreme athletes, and they’re professionals, and they really do deserve to be treated that way.

But we look at it the way people have looked at rock, or before that, jazz decades ago. People did not understand those at first either; now, they are accepted and celebrated.

SDM: Do you look at breakin’ as dance, sport or both?

Fields: It’s both. The sheet athleticism can rival anything an Olympic gymnast can do but it’s also a dance. It’s very exciting to watch.

SDM: Who governs the sport at its highest levels, such as in Paris?

Fields: Right now, it’s the World DanceSport Federation which mainly governs ballroom dance although they have brought in breakers to help them. There is a huge rift in the community and there are many people who don’t like that; they feel left out in terms of governance and decision-making. Our goal as an organization is to elevate the sport, despite all that. We want to keep the ball rolling and keep developing young people. You have to think positive and move forward

SDM: Many organizations have said they are having difficulty gaining sponsorship. Is that the case with USA Breakin’?

B-boy breakdancing in competitionFields: I think it’s a matter of reaching the right market. There is a market; the sport just hasn’t been packaged properly in order to reach it. There are definitely more opportunities and more dollars being invested right now, but it’s minimal compared to what needs to happen. We really want to take things not just to the next level but a few levels beyond that. We see what is happening around the world with breakin’ and we’re looking forward to making the U.S. an even bigger part of that.

SDM: What are you looking for when it comes to destinations that can host competitions?

Fields: We’re looking for partners. We want to work with organizations with similar values, so that we can learn from each other.

SDM: It definitely has international popularity, but it was invented in the USA, which is ironic.

Fields: Yes – in other countries, when competitions are hosted, they sell out stadiums and the governments fund it. The people organizing breakin’ in other countries get venues donated because it’s considered a cultural program. We should be celebrating it as part of our U.S. heritage here but we’re not – at least not enough, and at least not yet.

SDM: Are you seeing positive movement?

Fields: Oh, absolutely. I think people will want to get involved in it eventually; it’s just that right now, not a lot of people are seeing that long-term value. We need to change that. We’re still here, we’re still kicking and there’s no reason we can’t convince others what a great sport this is.

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