The Big Way Dancing With The Stars Is Changing Up Its Next Season

Everybody has a lot to be thankful for this week, what with Thanksgiving hopefully adding joyful celebrations and hearty meals to most people's lives. A couple of Dancing with the Stars contestants are definitely thankful, since the Season 25 finale crowned its winners on Tuesday night. And if there's anyone out there that's been hoping Dancing with the Stars would throw a little variety into its annual two-cycle scheduling, then show some appreciation. ABC announced that audiences will get to watch an all-athletes version of DWTS when Season 26 foxtrots around next year.

Not a lot of details have been revealed for the athlete-filled season of Dancing with the Stars, but we do know that there will only be ten pairs of contestants this time around. Not since Season 2 in 2006 have there only been ten couples competing, so it'll be interesting to see if there are any other changes as far as how long the competition lasts, and how many episodes fans will get to see. Usually, Dancing with the Stars' weekly run is slightly lower than the number of couples involved, so this could be one of the shortest seasons yet. Of course, reality competitions have no problem extending seasons by other means, so we'll see.

Showcasing solely athletes as the non-pro dancers is a pretty interesting gimmick for Dancing with the Stars to take on next season. After all, the sports world has been a big contestant pool for producers to draw from over the years, and more athletes have taken home the Mirrorball than any other kind of profession or entertainment field. They could even do an All-Stars version of the show using only former athlete winners, and there would be more than enough to fill the roster.

Back in Season 3, NFL great Emmitt Smith was the first to win it all with partner Cheryl Burke, and Dancing with the Stars' NFL champ list also includes Donald Driver, Hines Ward, and last year's winner, Rashad Jennings. We've also seen Olympic greats like Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno, Shawn Johnson East, Meryl Davis and Laurie Hernandez; many fans thought Simone Biles should have won last year, too. No wins for athletes from all the other sports out there like baseball and basketball, but former and current players have definitely been in the running in years past. For instance, former L.A. Laker Derek Fisher competed in this most recent season, using his glory days as inspiration for one performance.

And just because Dancing with the Stars is focusing solely on athletes doesn't mean the show automatically has to avoid the more interesting contestant choices that come up each season. (See: Mr. T., Geraldo Rivera, Frankie Muniz, etc.) Get Pete Rose involved, or the constantly polarizing NFL bossman Roger Goodell. Ric Flair is on everyone's minds because of his recent 30 for 30 doc, so he'd be welcome, as well as just about anyone else from pro wrestling's past. Now I just want to spend the rest of the day dream-casting this.

With this current season in the books, Dancing with the Stars will return to ABC for some sports-minded performances in 2018, likely in March. To see what you guys can keep yourselves busy with in the meantime, check out our fall TV premiere schedule and be sure to bookmark our 2018 midseason premiere schedule, with new dates being added regularly.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.