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Marching Band: Sport or Not?

Madison Davis, Staff Writer

Marching bands around the nation recently reached the end of their season. From August to November, members of marching bands prepare themselves to entertain at football games and parades and to outperform other bands at competitions. Their practices range between one to two hours a week up to two or three hours a day never exceeding eight hours a week permitted by UIL rules in Texas. The band members work in the sun during the summer and after school. In multiple states in high schools, marching band offers a P.E. credit for students. With all of the similarities and requiring physical exertion along with producing a great deal of mental stress, marching band should be considered a sport. 

Sports include any activity involving physical exertion and skill governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively. Marching band exhorts physical forces from marchers while they march across the fields at varying tempos and calls for the flexing of muscles which are not often stretched to the extreme. While marching band does involve grueling physical stances and intense muscular flexing, the visual aspect does not consume the entirety of the activity. Marching band also requires masterful, meticulous playing of instruments, some weighing up to 50 lbs. such as the sousaphone or contrabass tuba. It also involves memorization of sets, forms, stylistic flair and performance quality which can only be achieved by a great deal of practice and determination. Simply put, the hard work of marching bands rival, if not exceed, the work put in by sports teams everywhere.

In terms of time, marchers devote a decent portion of their free time to their craft. Unfortunately for many marchers, the band geek stereotype undermines their hard work, devotion and sacrifice. The band geek stereotype has led some to believe marchers are simply walking to a tempo when in actuality, marching requires much more. Marching band requires an entirely different type of person who can simultaneously manipulate and control bodily convulsions which demand someone in high mental and physical state. The artistic aspect of marching band however sets it apart from other sports, making it far more unique but one all the same.

Marching band like many other mainstream sports has its own major league. Drum Corps International (DCI) has been in operation since 1972 and consists of three separate divisions in which drum corps can participate. DCI, the NFL, MLB and NHL are all non-profit organizations which represent the professional form of marching band, football, baseball and hockey, respectively. Marching band meets and often surpasses the threshold required for “sporthood” and as such should not be demeaned as a geeky activity, but as a sport.

Marching band should be respected as a sport and should be kept in high esteem because of the intensity of the work marchers put in, the work ethic of the marchers and the overall beautiful performance put on by bands. While most sports lack artistic flair, marching band excels at creating a unique form of sport with its own equally unique customs and practices.

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19 Comments

19 Responses to “Marching Band: Sport or Not?”

  1. kenzie on July 4th, 2013 4:07 pm

    I go to school in indiana, and we practice up to 40 hours a week even exceding two months before the actual ” band camp” starts

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  2. Andrew on December 8th, 2013 10:17 am

    it doesn’t matter how long you practice, a pianist practices a very very long time each and every day, but it isn’t considered a sport, i don’t care if you put in 40, 50, or 60 hours a week, it isn’t a sport unless the state, county, and school say it is. You cant say your state/county/school is just dumb, it’s there rules, and few, very few school consider marching band a sport. SCHOOLS, not states or counties, even if 1 states said sure it’s a sport, the amount of counties in that state, a few would go along with that, and the amount of schools in that county, 1 or 2 would say it’s a sport

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    Alexis Frias Reply:

    Excuse me, don’t mean to sound rude but you compared a pianist to marching band. First of all, they are two completely different methods of being a musician. Although both involve playing an instrument, a pianist ALWAYS sits while they play, a marcher apart A FIELD.of a marching band STANDS UP AND MARCHES ACROSS THE FIELD. I’m sorry but your opinion is HIGHLY INVALID!

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    Gemsworthy Reply:

    Excuse me, you said that Andrew’s opinion was invalid. An opinion cannot be invalid, but a point can. If you can’t distinguish the two; you’re point is barely credible it’s self.

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    Devin Proulx Reply:

    Marching Band requires physical abilities. I don’t see people marching piano, but it is part of marching band. We call it pit. Piano is too big of an instrument to be marched. The most physical thing you do on a piano is move your fingers and feet. So if you’re suggesting piano should be a sport, I would like to hear why.

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    Erin Brophy Reply:

    Why is this even an argument? People that say that marching band is not a sport, are just ignorant about the sport. Don’t insult us if you don’t know what we do. Simple as that.

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  3. olivia on November 14th, 2014 2:46 pm

    Marching band IS a sport. At my school we work harder than the football team. We a have a little below 60 people in our band from 8th grade and up also recruiting 7th graders. At band camp we worked 8-10 hours straight every day for a week and a half in 90 degree heat, while the football team takes breaks every 30 minutes. We don’t get recondition for any performances or winning competitions and we have a director, drum major and band parents WE ARE A SPORT!!!

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    Gemsworthy Reply:

    Have you taken any consideration as to why the football team takes breaks every 30 minutes? It’s because their workouts they do are of a higher caliber. Yes, I will say that band may take a lot of work but it is not as demanding as the work real sports do.
    Secondly, you used the word “recondition” incorrectly. Recondition means: to renovate or to condition again. I believe the word you are searching for is recognition.
    Also, do you call your band director ‘coach’? Or do you call your drum major ‘referee’? Those terms are reserved for the performing arts. To conclude, band is NOT a sport, band is an art.

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    Thor Reply:

    Marching band is less of an art and more of a sport. Concert band is an art. But Marching Band, which originated in the military to conduct the flow of troops on the BATTLEFIELD (I don’t remember the last time a football player stepped on the battlefield in the name of that sport) and later moved away from that to perform in different things. Definition of Sport: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
    Physical Exertion: Try marching with a set of tenors at 238 beats per minute in blistering heat. There was a study performed by a college that I forget that analyzed a College Tenor drummer and concluded that his heart rate and oxygen intake and output during the performance is about the same as a runner running a 5k.
    And we do compete. There are state championships buddy.

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    John Reply:

    I’ve played both football and marching band, but i quit football for marching band, and what i found is that football gets much much more breaks than band. We get 2 or 3 breaks top in a 4 hour period, while the football team gets a break every 30 minutes. And most of the practice in football is physical training or standing and waiting for your chance to prove that you can actually perform the play properly. In marching band however, we are constantly moving, tracking the field, or doing countless run throughs. If you were to take the instrument away, then you would still have to execute your moves perfectly, on time, and very snappy while not moving your upper body AT ALL. The instrument is what separates marching band from an art to a sport. Now you have more weight to carry, you now have to breath not only to survive, but also to play, you have to play everything perfectly, on time, and with good sound all while maintaining marching fundamentals.

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    Person Reply:

    I am believe marching band is a sport as well as an art. Although I too get very frustrated when people mock marching band saying it should not be considered a sport, I believe a label shouldn’t define how we think about things. Many people believe (not me) marching band is not a sport but it fits the definition of a sport. It’s not like soccer or football was originally considered a sport.

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    Person Reply:

    I also think just because we label the officials who run the program differently that doesn’t really matter.

    Mandi Reply:

    I agree that marching band is a sport. #1 some school marching bands have a varsity letter on our uniforms. #2 we have to go through so much work during the summer and after school for 2 to 8 hours. #3 We have to go though hard work and I know from experience that most people in marching band devote their blood, sweat, and tears to the show. #4 We have marching band competitions all over the place. So in conclusion we the marching band should be considered a sport.

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    Gabby Reply:

    I agreed with completely as a marcher myself as we also compete more than my school’s football team

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  4. Sage on September 18th, 2015 12:57 pm

    Well all of this ties into mental focus that involves not just Physical but like I said mental focus of being on beat, remembering our spots, memorizing music at the same time. On the other hand we have the instruments which we carry is heavy. Even The bass, quad, and tenor are pretty heavy too. So physically we are a sport and mentally as well. Stretches we do as well more than the football team. Not to mention competition!! :)

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  5. ThatTubaGuy on October 20th, 2015 2:26 pm

    Finally I found people who get it.

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  6. Tyler on October 21st, 2015 8:08 am

    HA! Oh we all know this is based on opinion. Mine is that by definition Marching Band is in fact a sport. We have band camp which is 4 weeks at my school, 8-9 hour days, 40-45 hours a week. After that we practice 3 hours Tuesday to Friday. Physical exertion ? Ha we have more than that, try holding a 40lb Baritone all through practice while also plying your music, marching with your feet in time, staying in your form, and watching a drum major. Our skill? Mentally able to memorize music, forms, and dots. Playing an instrument while moving, keeping that horn up, and staying mentally strong. Compete? We have invitationals, Regional, Semi State, and State. Our “referees” are not drum majors, they are the field judges and the judges in the press box. Have I proven my point? yes we may not be more physically demanding, in your opinion, but we are a sport.

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  7. Jeremy Lin on December 11th, 2015 1:18 pm

    Marching band is considered a performing art. While some may say that marching band is considered a sport, other see marching band that is considered an art. Marching band requires practice and many after school hours. It has a very competitive side to it as many marching bands go to competitions such as BOA, DCI, and many other smaller competitions. Performing for marching band requires students to memorize music and learn how to march to the correct dot (where each student ends up at each measure/form). Marching band is highly regulated as all competitions are judged under a set of rules such as BOA’s rules. Even if schools, states, and national level do not recognize marching band as a sport, one can see how marching band is so similar to other sports. Its competitiveness, work ethic, and regulation are quite similar to other sports. Many sports could be argued as not a sport as many are very controversial under the definition of sport. Many sports become sports because those advocate for them must provide best support. While I may be biased because I have been in a marching band, I have also been in many sports such as football, swimming, and soccer. I still believe marching band should be considered a sport.

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  8. hayden connor on February 1st, 2016 11:38 am

    marching band is infact a sport. we do competions we practice and go for awards like the playoffs in football. so If ANYBODY Disagrees they try it

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