Despite earning the second highest individual score of the night, Arike Ogunbowale got the boot on “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes,” along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Notre Dame star certainly is not the first high-scoring contestant to get eliminated, but she is the first contestant who was prohibited from doing press for the show due to NCAA rules, which bar student athletes from making money off their likeness. Would she have survived Week 2 if she could’ve talked about how badly she wants that Mirrorball trophy?
We’ll never know for sure, but the fact is press is a vital part of the “Dancing” formula. You have to get yourself out there and win over fans and convince them to vote for you. Worse than not being able to go on, say, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is that Ogunbowale and her partner Gleb Sacvhenko couldn’t show off their personalities and encourage fans to vote for them on their social media, which every other couple does multiple times a day.
In her brief stint on a very brief season, Ogunbowale showed a lot of potential and also had the scores to back it up. Not including guest judge scores, she earned a total of 71 points during her two weeks, tying Josh Norman and Tonya Harding. Only Adam Rippon (79) and Mirai Nagasu (77) have more points. Of the four people eliminated so far, she had the most points and the highest average (23.7). She was also on the winning team on Monday’s show, Team 1970s Football, bringing her total to 70, putting her ahead of five couples and four points higher than the next closest contestant, Harding.
The points and talent were there, but the votes weren’t. You can overcome bad scores, but you can’t overcome a total lack of visibility off the floor, especially if you’re one of the least known contestants who needs all the help you can get.
Of course, in a normal season with single eliminations, Ogunbowale probably could’ve survived this week. But again, it’s just another big “what if?”
Do you think the NCAA’s rules led to Ogunbowale’s elimination? Vote below.
“Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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