Dancing With the Stars announced a major change in their casting for season 26. During the season 25 finale, where Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold were crowned champions, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced the show would return in the spring with a special twist.
Not only will the new season be only four weeks long, but the dance competition will feature exclusively athletes. The show is likely taking a cue from some of its recent fan-favorite dancers and Olympic athletes, like Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles, and will capitalize on the patriotism and excitement following the 2018 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LII, while making room in ABC's schedule for the American Idol reboot, which is also set to premiere in the spring.
Ten athletes yet to be named from a variety of sports will compete for the coveted mirrorball trophy in spring 2018. In past seasons, numerous sports stars have competed — and triumphed — in the ballroom: Former NFL stars Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, Donald Driver, and Rashad Jennings each won their seasons; Olympic gold medalists Apolo Anton Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Meryl Davis and Laurie Hernandez all danced away victorious; and auto racing driver Hélio Castroneves has also taken the top spot.
Continue on to see which athletes we want to see dancing in the ballroom in 2018.
While it's hard to predict right now who the fan favorites will be from the American figure skating and ice dancing teams (although Maia and Alex Shibutani are early front runners), it's safe to say at least one Olympic skater will hold a special place in America's collective heart come the closing ceremonies on February 25.
As for retired Olympic skaters, the show would be looking for successful contestants similar to ice dancing duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who became the first U.S. ice dancing gold medalists in 2014 but unfortunately, have already competed on the show.
Michelle Kwan is another good choice, with qualifications like two Olympic medals, five World championships and nine U.S. championships under her belt.
While it may be tough to get current Olympic hockey players on the dance floor, as the hockey season will be well underway during competition, it's possible DWTS will go for a retired hockey champ — like the iconic Wayne Gretzky.
In fact, season 24 champ Emma Slater told reporters after the season 25 finale that she'd love to see Gretzky on the show. Slater's season 24 celeb partner, Drew Scott, revealed that he would be in touch with his fellow Canadian about the competition.
"That would be amazing. I am going to text him," Scott said. "He is a rockstar, he is the epitome of the true, hardworking athlete."
Another retired hockey player with connections to the iconic show? Erin Andrews' husband Jarret Stoll, although it's unclear if the conflict of interest would rule him out immediately.
While the show would have to recruit retired NBA players who actually have the time to compete, pro Sharna Burgess said she'd love to see some more basketballers on the show.
Burgess, who was partnered with former Clippers player Derek Fisher, told reporters she'd love someone like Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal, but noted, "I’m going to need three foot platforms to dance with that guy!"
Fisher, who was booted out in this season's competition earlier than many fans expected, even put his own hat in the ring.
"Since I only lasted about four weeks, I should be back in the all-athletes show dancing with Sharna," he said. "Often times, athletes don't get to tell their [personal] stories. You just kind of watch them perform. You don't get to really find out who they are behind it and that will be great to watch [on 'DWTS'] whether I get invited back or not."
The Olympics won't be the only major sporting event the athletes-only season will be hot on the heels of — Super Bowl LII will have been on Feb. 4, and depending on who makes it that far, we could have another football star in the mix.
Teams like the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are currently leading the league, so it wouldn't be a shock to see any of those teams make it to the big game. And even though 40-year-old Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still claims to have a few years left in him, seeing him on the DWTS lineup would be huge for the show.
While it's not clear if DWTS would take the political gamble, a more accessible NFL star would be Colin Kaepernick, the former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback who is credited with starting the protest of racism and police brutality by kneeling on the field before the national anthem. Kaepernick is currently a free agent in the NFL, so he'd clearly have the time to compete. But if teams in the NFL are afraid to touch him, it's unclear if DWTS would be able to pull the trigger, either.
Tiger Woods might be in the middle of a career-turning comeback, but as Burgess put it, "We've never actually had a golfer, what about Tiger Woods?"
The golfer could use the shortened competition to his advantage to win back some of the hearts he lost after his cheating scandals and struggle with prescription drugs.
Photo Credit: NBC