How Ballet and Football Are Alike…and Different


© 2014 Grier Cooper

With all the talk about football players diving into ballet it seemed fitting to look at ways in which they are similar and ways they are different. This past weekend I went to see my first football game – ever– the Oakland Raiders (Raider Nation!) and noticed it’s a very different vibe going to a football game, although (just like at the ballet) you still get dressed up and you need a ticket to get in. Unlike the ballet, you also need to submit to a thorough bag check and metal detectors, plus you can’t bring your purse in if it’s larger than 4 ½ X 6 and not transparent. Still, watching athletes in action is always inspiring, whether they are swanlike waifs or built like tanks. Let’s look a little more closely at ballet and football, beginning with the similarities:


  1. Inhuman strength. Both dancers and football players spend most of their waking hours training, cross-training and sweating their butts off. This automatically elevates them to superhero status.
  2. Great butts. Hey, it’s true, whether or not you’re willing to admit you noticed. Because you did. Totally.
  3. Respect. Mostly because of items 1 and 2. How can you not respect a person with inhuman strength and a great butt? Plus they put on a good show.
  4. Injuries. Even though both types of athletes are capable of superhuman feats they are still human underneath it all.
  5. Career Length. Both dancers and football players usually retire in their thirties, meaning both careers are hella short.

The differences are a little more apparent:

1. Audience participation. You will never hear anyone yelling in the middle of at a ballet performance “Man, that was terrible! What are you doing!”(*obscenities edited out*). If you do, the person will be swiftly removed, I assure you.

2. Pay Scale. The top average salary for an NFL player is $17,600,000. Let’s not forget the celebrity endorsements and other perks. The average ballet dancer’s salary is a tiny $15,080 – $26,419. Midlevel dancers, often soloists, could earn as much as $50,000-$58,000 a year and celebrated principal dancers can earn a couple of thousand dollars per performance. Which is just sad.

3. Audience size. Michigan Stadium, home of the Michigan Wolverines, has a seating capacity of 109, 901, while Old City Stadium (home of the Green Bay Packers) holds a mere 25,000. The David Koch Theater (home of New York City Ballet) holds 2,586, San Francisco Ballet’s War Memorial Opera House holds 3,200 and Devos Performance Hall (home of Grand Rapids Ballet) holds 2,400.

4. Arrests. The fans of the Oakland Raiders have long been associated with rowdy, and sometimes violent, behavior, but a review of recent police records reveals that 49ers fans currently hold the Bay Area title for breaking the law on game day.


© 2014 Grier Cooper

49ers Data:
Aug. 17 = 18 arrests
Aug. 24 = 38 arrests
Sept: 14 = 31 arrests

Sept. 18 = 17 arrests

Oct. 5 = 22 arrests

Raiders Data:

Aug. 15 = 10 arrests

Aug. 28 = 6 arrests

Sept. 14 = 21 arrests

Average arrests at the ballet: um, none.

Whether you are a diehard football fan or ballet fan or both, that concludes our exercise in comparisons.To quote Colin Quinn as he wrapped up the SNL Weekend Update: “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”


© 2014 My Lovely Husband

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