The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: Marching band is a sport


Earlier this week, in a column by my respected colleague, Dan Hahn, he stated that marching band is not a sport.

To that- my professional answer is no. My unprofessional band kid of now 11 years and marching band kid of 10 years says… well, maybe that is not suitable to be published.

As a current senior member of the Panther Marching Band, I can tell you that marching band is not for the weak. We have 12 hour training days during the arm pit of the summer and continue for our season.

My colleague does not deny that marching band takes a level of athleticism, but he focuses on the fact that it is a “competitive athletic performance.”

Is not every athletic event a performance? Are football and basketball plays not “choreographed?”

I would like to draw attention to this video from Drum Corp International. Drum Corp International (DCI) is what can be compared to the Olympics of marching band. This video is a study of a quad player of a DCI group performing in a rehearsal.

This study focuses on tracking heart rate, oxygen levels, and overall energy levels. The heart rate went up and stayed up. The main researcher says that “that is what tips us off that these guys are different.”

So is marching band a higher level of sport than say football or basketball?

Last time I checked, my Jupiter Sousaphone weighs around 30 lbs. Do baseball players or even football players have to carry that weight while performing? Are they also blowing every ounce of their air out to produce a musical sound?

Not to mention, playing the right sound with a combination of mouth piece position, embouchure, being in step, and right valve combinations.

Can we talk about some of the uniforms we see? You do not see football players in 90 degree heat in full jackets, long pants, and shakos (the hat of marching).

So to my, again respected, colleague Dan- I am sorry, but you may have to fight a whole bunch of band kids on this argument.

I cannot begin to explain how marching band can be used as an avenue of comrade like “traditionally viewed” sports can. There are lasting friendships and common ground that shapes people.

You learn other perspectives, other people’s life stories, and most of all the “why” of why people chose marching band.

Like our director here at Eastern likes to say, “it is more than marching band.” That comes from a soccer coaching philosophy titled “The Messiah Method.”

Yup, you heard it here. The Panther Marching Band uses a soccer coaching philosophy to operate and establish our core values and ethics.

It is almost like you can transfer philosophy from sport to sport? Hmm?

Like stated before, marching band is not your “traditionally viewed” sport, but can easily fit into all the standards you expect out of an athlete.

Yes, it is a performance, but I argue that every sport is a test of performance. Marching band just breaks down those aspects and either tears you in judging, or awards you with a shiny trophy.

From one band kid to another, this is a daily struggle we CHOSE to fight. Just like our fellow cheerleaders, dancers, and other underappreciated or unrecognized sports.

Ellen Dooley can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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Ellen Dooley
Ellen Dooley, Opinions Editor
Ellen Dooley is a senior special education major. She previously served as the opinions editor at The News.

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