Monday, October 02, 2006

100 Meter Freestyle and Strangle a Guy

Jerry Seinfeld does a bit about the Olympics that is pretty good. In it he talks about the biathalon in the winter olympics, that is the one where you combine cross country skiing and shooting a rifle, Seinfled jokes that this makes about as much sense as a swimming event where you stop to choke someone at the end of the pool. I have discovered that an equally odd combination of events has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, I just never realized how dumb the combination was until now.

This year the NCAA changed the rules of its football games in order to make them shorter, I guess for TV (I have no idea why anyone would ever want a football game to be over sooner, but that really isn't the point). If you follow college football at all you have probably heard that the coaches don't like the rule changes very much, I won't bother explaining them, but the basic complaint is that they change the strategy of the game and make it more difficult to come from behind. I recently read in Sports Illustrated that one option for shortening the games that the coaches would have preferred was to simply shorten halftime, thus making the broadcast shorter without effecting the game. This suggestion was rejected by the NCAA who informed the coaches that the marching bands needed the full halftime to perform.

And there is the odd combination. Why on earth do football and marching bands go together? You have probably never noticed it either because they have been together for so long that it just seems natural, but in reality it is a disgustingly abnormal relationship. I don't want to address which is better (you can probably guess where I stand on that one), but rather point out that as a football fan I have virtually no interest in the marching band, and I am pretty sure most other football fans would agree with me. Having them around in the stands during the game to play Hey Baby, or the school song is kind of fun (as long as you don't get the seat right in front of them and have a trombone in your ear for the whole game), but I think most football fans would be indifferent at best, play it on the loudspeaker for all I care. The point is, I don't think that the people who are there for the football care if the band performs at halftime or not, as long as they get their bathroom break and a fresh beer.

I don't mean to degrade marching bands though. They work hard and have a real talent, and there are a lot of people who want to see it, but I don't see the connection to football. I know two drum majors, and I can't see either of them on the front row painted blue with their shirt off in -10 degree weather cheering on the team. The band fans probably don't care about football any more than I care about the band. I think that if the roles were reversed and I had to watch three hours of a marching band just to see twenty minutes of football in the middle I would probably shove a pencil through my ear and/or eye. When you think about it, having a marching band at halftime of a football game is kind of like having the fat lady sing an aria between rounds at the WWF.

I think it is time to end this unholy union once and for all. Marching bands to the marching band competition, football to the football game, and never the two shall meet.


At 10/03/2006 07:34:00 AM,

I hesistate to bring this up because it was a very traumatic time in my life.

All I know is that when I was a freshman in high school and, through some freak turn of events, ended up in marching band, the band director treated band with the seriousness of a football coach.

Once he told me that I would fail his class because I was looking to transfer schools (mostly because of him) and was visiting that school on the day of a performance.

Once he left the room during a rehersal, came back and said "You know what i just did, I just threw up because that's how bad your playing was..."

When I couldn't stand the ridiculousness of the whole thing and quit, the man refused to let me leave. He would come and pull me out of class to try and convince me to come back. He called my home and spoke with my mom. He was nuts!!!

Needless to say, I have no love for marching band. (sorry catherine)

My theory is this: If you're going to play music, sit still and play the music well. If you're going to march in cool formations, put on a tape and march around in cool formations. But doing both at the same time just doesn't work in my book.

At 10/03/2006 08:46:00 AM,

Dear Chris,

Whether marching bands and football need to be combined, I will leave to the experts to debate(aka Chris M.G. the football expert and Catherine the band expert), but as to the utility of combining "marching" with "playing music" I must disagree... have you not seen THE MUSIC MAN??? Marching around while playing music has very important qualities for improving the character of town boys, the least of which is that it stops them from playing pool.

Better yet, I suggest you rent "STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER" the Hollywood musical about renowned marching band demi-god John Philip Sousa, for more on why marching and playing music together really IS a good idea. It has the military as its antecedent (which, because you are a liberal yippie aka a yuppie hippy, will surely displease you, being from California and having a beard, you pacifist beatnik!! you probably are more concerned about keeping terrorists safe than you are about keeping band members employed!!!). But think about the role that the picolo and the drum played in the revolutionary war, to inspire the troops while on the move, or keep them in formation... or that picolo and drum players marched alongside Mormon pioneers and played music (go to the Church history museum, one of those picolos is even on display!!) to help them keep pace and stay upbeat on the journey!!!

So I must disagree... marching and music belong together. Whether they belong on a football field in the middle of a football game, is not my issue.  

Posted by Sheldon

At 10/03/2006 12:46:00 PM,

I've never played in a band or marched, never been on a football team; however, all of my kids were in a top notch marching unit at Westfield H/S here in Houston. My wife is of the opinion that the football field belongs to the band and permits the football team to play around their performance. I would go and watch a game and watch a performance, two for the price of one so to speak.

On a side note, isn't it wonderful that somebody has decided to use your blog to spam his business...

At 10/03/2006 01:04:00 PM,

I decided to give myself 24 hours to cool off and ponder on the blog subject at hand :)

I think you have some valid points, but I also think you are wrong in a few areas.

Why do bands and football go together? With the exception of BYU ( who practices on a painted parking lot) bands need Yard lines to march with, if you don't have those you are SCREWED as my little brother ( a HS drum major) can attest to, as they didn't paint the lines on teh football field for the homecoming game. Aside from that, I have NO idea why football and Marching Band go together.

BUT, as far as the band not being fans of the game, you are WRONG there. The people in the band have figured out a way to go to EVERY HOME GAME AND BOWL GAMES, FOR FREE. And trust me, there have been SEVERAL occasions where I wanted to shove a tuba down a band member's throat for what I thought was a little overzealousness over "just a game".

Plus, I think you have to give these guys some credit. They memorize music, play it, and march ALL at the same time. I know football players practice hard and have to be coordinated too, but give the nerds some credit, too, huh!! They're doing it for the school spirit!!!

ANd, as a side note, I just have to say that I once ate NOTHING but carrots for a whole week in the hopes that it would turn my skin orange ( as carrots can if consumed in mass enough qualities)to be spirit filled for our High school football team.

And, if you're going to be trashing the entertainment at the football games, what about the cheerleaders and the dance teams? They just block your view of the game with their pyramids and signs!!!

At 10/03/2006 01:35:00 PM,

Sheldon pointed that out to me too about the cheerleaders and dance team, I am 100 percent for getting them the heck out of the football stadium (especially the cheerleaders, what a waste of scholarship money). As for Cat's other points, they are well taken, I have never been in a band so you do have a better perspective. I am also all for sharing the field (and the lines), it just doesn't have to be at the same time.

Just two points
1. The fact that your fellow band member's overzealousness about football sometimes got on your nerves is yet another example of why these two things must be seperated. You as someone who really cares a lot about the band are annoyed when football gets in the way of the performance, just like I am annoyed that they would change the rules of football to accomodate the band.

2. (on this one your larger contact with the band probably outweighs my opinion, but it is only based on my limited experience with the band)I'm not sold on the idea that band members do it because of their love for football. First if all, most students get into the home games for free anyway, and at a lot of schools the student section is in a better part of the stadium than the band section (at least for viewing the game). that means that they would have to be putting in all that work (Cat can fill in the exact number of hour, but I'm sure it is a lot) for four years just to get a free trip to bowl games that the school usually offers for a reasonable price to students anyway. Furthermore, there is a difference between having school spirit and being a football fan. In my experience most band members who are also "fans" have a lot more school spirit than football knowledge/enthusiasm.

I think that we agree though that if the two must be together they should stay out of each other's way. Maybe letting the band go first for a half hour before the game or something like that would be a good compromise.

At 10/03/2006 01:47:00 PM,

I think I can clarify the difference between school spirit and being a fan in this way. At the U I had a few classes with cheerleaders and band members and they were always talking about all of the school's athletic teams. They loved it if for example the gymnastics team won (I think the BYU equivalent to the U's gymnastics team is their mens volleyball team, both are sports that are really popular at their respective schools, but only because the team is usually really good, I mean who actually cares about mens volleyball) because it was good for the school, I on the other hand, could care less how the gymnastics team won or if they even existed.

don't know if that illustrates the point or not.

At 10/07/2006 02:41:00 PM,

After putting some thought into this, I have to side mostly with Cat. First of all, I like the new rule of keeping the game clock moving on a change of possession; the games are too long anyway. I have a hard time staying interested in a game unless it is in the fourth quarter and close. But, speeding up the game doesn't have much to do with half time entertainment. The real reason I think the band is a good thing really doesn't have much to do with football at all but probably stems from the traditional combination of the two. Every summer during the parades, there will be a marching band playing some song that will remind me of football. It's really the first thing after months of a football drought that gets me excited for the upcoming season. Without the football/marching band combination, I wouldn't get this reminder of football in early July.

On top of this, I also enjoy the band playing in the stands during the game. It adds to the game atmosphere and the home field advantage. I agree that most people couldn't care less about the half time performance but it definitely is better than some of the other silly things they do (like little league football games).

At 10/09/2006 04:27:00 PM,

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