By Brianna Williams
Fall marks the beginning of an athletic explosion in the world of collegiate sports. This season is jam packed with events from cross country, to women’s volleyball, to football, that any lover of sports certainly enjoys. However, in the realm of HBCU sports, there is one athletic activity that seems to cause controversy in reference to if it should be classified as a “sport.” This beloved activity, which provides the heart of halftime, is known as marching band.
Before I dive into this controversy, let’s establish the facts. By definition, a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” The entertainment aspect of marching band is not up for debate. While the “actual” sporting event undeniably draws a crowd, many marching bands have dedicated fan bases of their own. This is apparent from the way seats are filled during halftime or even how fans stick around to see the “fifth quarter” following football games. Additionally, the Honda Battle of the Bands and the newly renamed National Battle of the Bands attract tens of thousands of fans on a yearly basis.
When it comes to the competitiveness of marching band, it compares just as any traditional sport would in this category. An obvious example of this is how opposing bands often have competitions while in the stands. When it comes down to their competition on the field, some bands perform in showcases that are completely independent of football, such as those that were previously mentioned. A simple Google search of “best HBCU band” would further demonstrate the level of competitiveness and importance of bragging rights.
The key phrase in this definition that may cause there to be a gray area is “physical exertion.” Is marching band physical in the manner as football or volleyball? Of course not, but to say that continually marching up and down a football field with an instrument that can weigh thirty pounds while controlling your breath is not physically taxing, is absolutely ridiculous. The mental exertion in football compares to any traditional team sport as they are required to remember rhythms, notes, sets, and to make whatever adjustments are necessary during a performance. Anyone with doubts about the physicality of HBCU marching band would easily have those doubts destroyed in just one day of band camp or even a practice during the season.
As the season for fall sports continue to play out, let’s put some respect on our HBCU bands.
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