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Marching Band and Drum Corps: Are They A Sport?
Transcript of Marching Band and Drum Corps: Are They A Sport?
It is physically hard work.
Marching band and DCI are a sport. They are like running a marathon while holding a dead weight in front of you.
Marching band and drum corps are a sport, not just some activity that geeks and people who aren't physically fit enough to play stereotypical sports do because it fits the definition of a sport, the physical and mental conditions in which they function are similar to that of a stereotypical sport, and it is physically hard work.
That would be pretty tough, but now imagine running that marathon with an 8 pound weight. On top of that, you can't move that weight at all, you have to go 4 feet per step, and every 8 steps you have to drastically change direction.
Marching band - an activity in which musicians march in time to music, put on shows and march in parades
DCI/drum corps - slogan is "Marching Music's Major League"; it's like marching band but more intense and doesn't have woodwinds; DCI stands for Drum Corps International; shows often have an important message
Important background information
Now onto my first reason.
Marching Band and Drum Corps: Are They A Sport?
That's marching band.
- a storyboard for what the band will do in a show
- a type of drum in marching band and drum corps
- the leader of a marching band or drum corps
- a trick or action a marching band does in a show
- the part of the band that goes along with the music through interpretive dance with flags, rifles, sabres and airblades
Bobby Knight - a basketball coach known for being very harsh and tough on his players
Marching band and drum corps fit the definition of a sport
a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other
There is a lot of physicality involved in marching band and DCI. There is a lot of sweat, a lot of time and effort, teamwork is very important like in almost every sport. Teammates have to support each other and if one person messes up, it can mess up the whole team.
“Marching band requires skill and a certain level of physical fitness in order to succeed, just like any other sport. It has rules and regulations that have to be followed and traditions that are faithfully practiced by members. Although marching band obviously doesn’t have the physical contact aspect like soccer, hockey, and football, it does call for the same dedication and practice.” -LBP High Life Newspaper
“It’s actually a very precise drill move; it’s not just simply a follow the leader. Every member of the band has to know how to march a certain number of counts through each part of the script. Obviously the drum major leads it and has to know it better than anybody else, but the rest of the band members, there are key points in that script where they have to know exactly how many counts they have to go, say, down to the bottom of the H or up to form the I.” ~Christopher Hoch, Ohio State University Assistant band director, when talking about the OSU marching band spelling out OHIO in a show.
This quote, expert testimony, explains that marching band actually does require skill. Something that might seem simple to the audience, like spelling out a word, actually requires a lot of skill and practice.
“Marching band’s main focus is playing instruments together, and is an act of showmanship. For sports, the main focus is to compete against others and be the best. Marching band’s focus is to support the football team, provide encouragement for the crowd at games, and represent the school at public events like parades.”
~LBP High Life Newspaper
“Depends on what definition you use, I would say the answer is yes, and I would say it’s a sport of the arts. Because we call it, it’s known as a sport of the arts. And so when we talk about drum corps, when we promote ourselves for the drum corps event at TCF Bank Stadium, we call it a sport of the arts. So, as long as you're talking about something being physically active, there being the aspect of team, coming together and the aspect of competition, drum corps and marching band have all three of those.” ~Mr. Nathan Blinn when asked whether or not he qualifies drum corps as a sport or not.
The key part of this quote is "So, as long as you're talking about something being physically active, there being the aspect of team, coming together and the aspect of competition, drum corps and marching band have all three of those.". In this sentence Blinn states that there is marching band/drum corps competitions, they are not just to support the football team.
For this reason, marching band and DCI have many similarities to other sports.
The physical and mental conditions in which they function are similar to that of a mainstream sport.
A survey found that 95% of band members at Avon High School in Indiana suffered from muscle soreness and stiffness after practice, half said they were frequently tired, almost a quarter said they felt faint or sick after practice, more than half had a heat-related illness and 38% said they had an injury from marching band. These injuries are also common in almost every sport.
"At the top levels of marching band and drum corps, you get a level of competition and athleticism that is equal to a division I athletic program," Gary Granata, exercise physiologist, registered dietitian and owner of the company PerformWell.
Dr. Jeff Edwards at Indiana State University attached a machine to Jordan Thomas, a tenor drum player for The Cavaliers “The Cavies” which measured his oxygen consumption, how much carbon dioxide he made, how much air he breathes and his heart rate. When he was just watching on the sidelines his heart rate was 180 bpm, and had an adrenaline rush like a runner has when they hear the gun go off in a race. When he was performing he had a heart rate of more than 200 bpm and his oxygen intake was 13 to 14 times higher than it normally is. His heart rate is that of someone sprinting a 400 or 800 meter dash and the oxygen intake rate of a well trained runner in the middle of a marathon.
Marching band is not a sport because it is routine. Almost no other sports have routine, most have offense and defense, but marching band has a routine that they do.
“And then also the competition part of it, it's team against team, it's similar in that it's kinda like the X-games, X-games are sports." ~Mr. Nathan Blinn
Marching band and DCI are similar to the X-games in the aspect of how they compete. In both marching band and the X-games you are doing a routine, but the X-games is considered a sport.
"The physical demands under which most marching bands and drum corps operate seem to necessitate some sort of conditioning and injury prevention. 'If I didn’t take care of my amazing kids, I wouldn’t have an amazing program; it is just like training an Olympic athlete,' Dinkins says." ~Half Time Magazine
When talking about injury prevention among marching band and DCI members, Bruce Dinkins, the band director of the James Bowie High School Outdoor Performing Ensemble, describes conditioning marching bands/drum corps to training an Olympic athlete.
Next, let's go to my third reason why marching band is a sport.
Marchers and drum corps members are athletes because they have to march together into different formations, while playing an instrument or spinning a flag, rifle, or sabre. This takes a lot of strength, agility and stamina.
After practice you are exhausted, both mentally and physically. Drum corps takes a lot out of you. It is very physical. You learn how to control your muscles and heart rate. You also build up your endurance. In drum corps you practice for 13 hours a day.
If you come into DCI with any extra weight, you will lose it all, if you come in super skinny, you will actually gain weight because you gain muscle mass. In DCI you eat four meals per day because you are burning off so many calories. That is the minimum in order to maintain your health. There are days when members had to drink up to 5 gallons of water because of water loss through sweat.
Marching band doesn't involve as much physical activity as other sports.
“If a basketball team trained as hard as these kids do,” says Bobby Knight, “it would be unbelievable. I like to take my players [to watch drum corps] to show them what they can accomplish with hard work and teamwork. Besides, once they see them practice 12 hours a day, my players think I’m a helluva lot easier.”
The well known basketball coach, Bobby Knight, says that he takes his players to drum corps practice and afterward, his players think he is a lot easier on them.
Kristen Leander and Joseph Vallee with the University of Rhode Island did a study on members of the University of Rhode Island marching band and found that they had better cardiorespiratory fitness and that even though they didn’t do the national exercise guidelines, they did a ton of moderate and vigorous physical exercise.
Marching band is extremely physical, which is part of why it should be considered a sport.
Marching band and DCI are extremely physical. They require a lot of strength, agility, and stamina. They have competitions, take much practice and skill and have rules to follow.
So, instead of calling drum corps and marching band a geeky, easy activity, refer to it as a sport and respect its members.
Call to Action
Mr. Nathan Blinn - Chippewa's 6th grade band director; has high ethos; trumpet 2 years Irondale, cymbals 1 year indoor, bass drum 3 years indoor, drum major 2 years Irondale, Madison Scouts 2005-2007, taught Spirit of Atlanta 2010, coordinates DCI Minnesota, assistant director Irondale marching band, staff for River City Rhythm; has played many sports
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