Every time a winner is declared on Dancing with the Stars, there’s always some controversy surrounding the contestant that should have won. This season, it’s Gilles Marini, who came in second place after season 8 champ Shawn Johnson —but is every bit deserving of the mirror ball trophy. 

Prior to the start of Dancing with the Stars, most people didn’t know who Gilles was. But he immediately caught everyone by surprise when he performed the cha-cha-cha and earned the highest score in the first week of the ABC dance series. And gradually, “Gilles Marini” became a household name.

Week after week for 11 weeks, the dashing Gilles proved that he’s not just a good dancer; he’s also one of the front runners of season 8. He was a consistent leader on the score board and had the most number of perfect 30s than anyone in the competition. But sex appeal and graceful dance moves could only take him so far and at the end of the day, it’s also about popularity —and clearly Shawn has the most number of fans.

But the “popularity game” is not what’s troubling skeptics at the moment. There are now talks about whether Shawn or any other athlete should be allowed to join the show in the first place since athletes have an obvious advantage in this contest.

I was especially struck by season 4 winner Apolo Ohno’s parting words to Shawn prior to her final performance on Dancing with the Stars in which he said that “there’s no Olympian who’s made the finals who has not won the show.” Adding that Shawn brings “in a totally different mentality from the Olympic games and being a competitor that nobody else possesses and that’s gonna give [her] the edge on the competition.”

Either this validates the fact that it’s unfair for athletes, especially Olympians, to compete on Dancing with the Stars, or it just sets the bar too high for the next batch of athletes next season.  

Although I’d still like to see athletes compete on Dancing with the Stars, past winners such as Emmitt Smith, Apolo Anton Ohno and Kristi Yamaguchi have established that they pretty much have the competition in the bag. On the other hand, not all athletes do well on Dancing with the Stars and there’s always someone who’s going to have the advantage, whether that contestant is an athlete or not.   

-Kris De Leon, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of ABC)

Kris De Leon

Staff Writer, BuddyTV