Marching Band: It is More than a Sport

An Opinion written by: Emily Lucia

With the recent online popularity of the Ohio State Marching Band, the art form has intrigued many. Commenters on the YouTube videos have shown amazement at how a group of people can form such interesting pictures on the field while playing instruments. Though, for marching band members throughout the country, it is just another day on the field. Because of everything band members do during half-time, many spectators wonder whether marching band is a sport.

Band directors, members and their parents alike will say “yes,” while most athletes will beg to differ. Organizations like the NCAA and most universities consider marching band a sport, as they offer athletic scholarships to band members. However, if you look at the work that the band does, you will see that they work just as hard as a football team, if not more.

When they step onto the field, the band members exercise the muscles in their legs (like most sports), and in their abdomen (hip switches or flanks). They exercise their upper body muscles (through carrying instruments), their breathing, and their ability to multi-task. Do you know anyone who can focus on roll stepping with their right foot first at all times, play an instrument or spin a flag, breathe, pay attention to the timing, watch a drum major and focus on rhythms, notes and tempos simultaneously—not to mention the occasional horn flash (moving an instrument)?  A college marching band puts in at least 20 hours of work every week, which includes learning and cleaning music as well as learning and cleaning drill (those pictures they make on the field). However, this does not include game days or band camp.

At the end of the season, the marching band comes off the field feeling they have accomplished something. They feel like they have learned more in marching band than they have in any other class. All too often, however, the band students feel unappreciated. They work so hard to prepare for a half-time performance, only to find just their parents and friends clapping from the stands. In my experience, some of the best performances are the ones where the entire crowd (even the student section) cheers for the band. The band members exit the field feeling exhilarated, just as football players feel when they score a goal. The feeling comes back when other students tell them what an amazing job they have done. Too often, a person will hear of a band student being bullied and criticized by members of other sports teams. If every member of a sports team would join marching band, they would realize everything what marching band members do on the field and would also be able to understand just how hard it all really is.

At the end of the day, marching band is a sport. If you want to see for yourself, talk to a marching band member and have them walk you through their warm-up and rehearsal. Go watch Drum Corps International (DCI) on YouTube. While you are there, check out the Ohio State Marching Band (if you have not seen their videos already) or other college and even high school marching bands.

Also, check out the McKendree Marching Bearcat Band Live in Concert on November 22 at 7:30pm at the Hett. If you can’t make that, come out and support the band (as well as the basketball teams) at the men and women’s basketball games.

Posted by McK Review

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