CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 962745 GGD

Mr. Scott Harris
Scott R. Harris Consulting
7010 North Kostner
Lincolnwood, Illinois 60646

RE: Clarification of NY A80922, issued March 6, 1996

Dear Mr. Harris:

On March 6, 1996, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division issued to you New York Ruling Letter (NY) A80922, in which five styles of dancing shoes were classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). This office has reviewed NY A80922 and has concluded that the rationale contained therein should be clarified.

NY A80922 correctly determined that dancing shoes are not “sports footwear.” The five shoe styles at issue - identified as shoes for ballet, jazz, and tap dancing - were classified in tariff subheadings other than those which provide for “sports footwear.” We find, however, that the ruling incorrectly stated that “dancing is a sport.”

In your original request for a ruling, dated February 22, 1996, you submitted evidence to support the contention that dancing is a sport, the most persuasive of which consisted of news accounts regarding action taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in April 1995. At that time, the IOC granted provisional recognition to the “sports” of ballroom dancing and surfing - which reportedly was a first step toward formal recognition and inclusion of those “sports” in the Games program. The same news accounts also noted that, officially, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) had offered no hint of welcome -2-

for ballroom dancing as an Olympic sport. A USOC spokesman was quoted as saying that “The IOC is simply recognizing an activity...[which] doesn’t mean that much at all to us.”

We are not aware of the current status in which the IOC places ballroom dancing, nor whether that body would opine that ballroom dance shoes are “sports footwear.” We point out that the shoes at issue in NY A80922 were ballet, jazz, and tap dance footwear. We further note that Customs is required by law to classify merchandise under the HTSUSA in accordance with the tariff’s General Rules of Interpretation, the terms of the tariff headings, and the tariff’s section and chapter notes. Customs also looks to the guidance provided by the Explanatory Notes (EN), and to the decisions of government-recognized international trade organizations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO). The IOC is not a trade organization, let alone one to which Customs looks for guidance.

In this case, the guidance provided by the Explanatory Notes indicates that dance is not a sport, by referring separately to dance footwear and “sports footwear” as distinct commodities. In pertinent part, General EN (A) to chapter 64 (which, among other items, covers footwear) states that the chapter includes:

(4) Special sports footwear which is designed for a sporting activity and has, or has provision for, the attachment of spikes, sprigs, stops, clips, bars or the like....

(5) Dancing slippers.

We also are unable to point to any lexicographic source which defines the noun “dance” as a sport, or which includes “dance” within the various definitions of the noun “sport.” For a typical example, Merriam-Webster’s Deluxe Dictionary, Tenth Collegiate Edition (1998), defines “dance” as: “1 : an act or instance of dancing 2 : a series of rhythmic and patterned bodily movements usually performed to music 3 : a social gathering for dancing 4 : a piece of music by which dancing may be guided 5 : the art of dancing.” On the other hand, “sport” is defined therein as: “1 a : a source of diversion : RECREATION...c (1) : physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2) : a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in 2 a : PLEASANTRY, JEST....” -3-

The classification of the five styles of dance shoes subject to NY A80922, issued March 6, 1996, remain unchanged. In light of the analysis above, although we are aware that dance may entail competition, require athleticism, involve physical and mental exertion, etc., it is Customs position that dance is not a sport.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division