When it comes to sport, kids think they can dance
TRADITIONAL sports, such as cricket and tennis, are losing popularity among Australian children, but dancing has found its groove.
Boys have caught the dancing bug, with 50,700 participating this year, up from 22,200 in 2003. Its popularity has it at No. 10 for boys sports based on percentage, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Dancing is the most popular sport for girls, with 367,400 taking dancing lessons, up from 307,100 in 2003.
Jacqui Tsamoudakis, of Jacqui T's School of Dance, said television shows such as Glee and So You Think You Can Dance had pushed dancing into the limelight.
Ms Tsamoudakis said there had been a rapid increase in demand for dancing classes, especially from boys up to 10 years old and teenage girls.
She said the television shows had made dancing a more acceptable choice for boys, who mostly favour hip hop and funk dance while girls choose contemporary and more recent styles over classical ballet.
''It doesn't surprise me, but it's unfortunate,'' she said of the slowing interest in ballet.
She said the children who watch Glee want to experience drama, jazz and funk while those who like So You Think You Can Dance were more into contemporary and hip hop styles.
The popularity of dancing has also led to many more dancing schools opening, she said.
After dancing, the most popular sports among girls aged five to 14 were swimming, netball and gymnastics. Soccer was the most popular activity for boys, followed by swimming, Australian rules football and basketball.
Outdoor cricket ranked fifth, with 123,100 participants, 12,600 fewer than in 2009. Cricket and tennis are the two sports to have had a reduction in participation rates among boys in the past three years.
In its annual report, Cricket Victoria reported a 9 per cent decrease in participation at junior cricket clubs and a 5 per cent decrease across the entire community last year.
A survey by CA showed there had been a 3.5 per cent decline in club participation, even though more children were playing the sport from a young age.
CA's national game development manager Matthew Dwyer said the drop in club cricket's popularity was mainly due to competition from other sports and time pressures.
''Cricket predominantly is still served up on Saturday afternoon or morning in 40 or 50 overs a side, and we know all the challenges families face now in terms of being time poor, with long working hours, and mum and dad both working,'' he said. ''There's no doubt the time element could be a restricting factor in why kids choose to play or not play cricket.''
Mr Dwyer said CA was exploring modified junior programs that incorporated accelerated play - ''indoor cricket rules played outdoors'' - which can be played in 90 minutes.