Apparently, Dancing With The Stars is a pretty popular show that has been a hot spot for athletes looking to improve their crossover appeal outside of sports.  Past winners have included athletes such as Emmitt Smith, Apolo Onho, Helio Castroneves, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, and Hines Ward. To continue this tradition of athletes appearing on the hit ABC show, Hope Solo and Ron Artest join the cast this year alongside B-listers (Kristen Cavallari, JR Martinez, Nancy Grace), C-listers (David Arquette, Chaz Bono), and others scraping the bottom of the celebrity food chain (Rikki Lake, Rob Kardashian).

The cast as a whole shows how important sports figures are on DWTS.  Not only are there two well-known athletes in Solo and Artest, but dancers like Cavallari (former fiancee to Jay Cutler) and Robert Kardashian (a writer for’s Page 2?!?) also have their own connections to the sports world.  At first glance, the most interesting sports figure in the cast is Ron Artest.  Will he try to fight Tom Bergeron or that really old judge?  Will he insist on doing the tango with his psychiatrist?  Will it be the only thing close to NBA action we’ll see in the next year?  Many sports fans will tune in to watch the zany Artest/Metta World Peace, but the real rising sports star in the new DWTS cast is U.S. Women’s Soccer Goalkeeper Hope Solo.

After the success of the Women’s World Cup and a 2nd-place finish, Solo has immediately become the most well-known women’s soccer player in the country.  And with the Williams sisters past the heights of their tennis careers and the lack of star power in the WNBA, one could easily argue Solo is becoming the most popular and recognizable female athlete in the country.  A long run on DWTS would not only help her profile among mainstream America, it could also help the growing popularity of women’s soccer and soccer as a whole.  Of course, if rumors are true that Solo is posing nude in ESPN The Magazine, I think the U.S. goalkeeper already has the male 18-35 demo committed to stuffing the ballot box.

[Business Insider]