Is Marching Band a sport?
The majority of the marching band students agree. But, is it really?
Now before the marching band people come to crucify me, let me elaborate on my claim. Marching band is not a sport, but rather falls under the category of performing arts. This is due to various factors, such as subjective scoring and creative element, that separate these two activities from each other, for the better.
Let’s start with marching band’s favorite argument: the dictionary definition of a sport affirms its place in that category. The Oxford English Dictionary defines sports as “An activity involving physical exertion and skill … one regulated by set rules or customs in which an individual or team competes against another or others.” While marching band is just as physically taxing and demanding of skill as many other sports, that alone does not give it the label of a sport. At its core, marching is a performance, a presentation of students’ musical and artistic abilities.
Because of marching band’s artistic qualities, its scoring is uniquely like those of performing arts. Unlike sports that are mostly objectively scored, such as when a ball goes through a hoop or hits the ground, performing arts are rated subjectively by judges who critique the performance’s value based on their opinions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines performing arts as “arts such as music, dance and drama which are performed for an audience.” This fits marching band at its core: an artistic performance for an audience.
Why do those in marching band insist that marching band is a sport? Because by saying it’s not a sport, these students feel as all of their hard physical and mental work is being undermined as being “easier” than traditional sports. That could be further from the truth. It’s important to bring up that marching band is in no way easier than a sport. The team goes through the same rigorous practices outside for hours with no water breaks while carrying instruments much heavier than any football gear. Walking for long hours with perfect form is already hard enough; try blowing into an instrument while doing it. A look at any Drum Corps International (DCI) performance shows the dedication and discipline that is required to excel in this art. Marching band is a performing art. Be proud of it.