Marching band is a performing art, not a sport


Members of the marching band perform a show at halftime of an RBHS football game. Photo by Parker Boone.

Elliot Bachrach

Football. Baseball. Basketball. Marching band. Which of these words does not belong? The answer is obvious, marching band, as it is not a sport.

To be fair, members of the marching band are some of the hardest working people at RBHS. Marching band is a big commitment; they practice for hours on end during the season, taking up their morning and a large chunk of their weekend. What they do isn’t easy, either; they literally have to play an instrument while being on the move. The fact that they can make magnificent sounds that come out of their preferred instrument while ambling around the field is remarkable. Most people can’t even play an instrument while they’re motionless. To add, the discipline of every band member to do their assigned choreography without misstepping and creating absolute mayhem is truly amazing. 

To add, the discipline of every band member to do their assigned choreography without misstepping and creating absolute mayhem is truly amazing. 

While marching band is astounding, it is not a sport. There are some people, namely members of the band, that genuinely believe it should be called a sport, usually arguing that the dictionary definition qualifies it as such. The definition states, “[A sport is] an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” 

Although the definition does favor their point, there is a difference between the denotation and connotation of a word. Despite the fact the dictionary may characterize marching band as a sport, there are certain associations that go along with the word sport. Sports exclusively involve “physical exertion,” while marching band is more of a performing art because it involves the playing of an instrument that relays artistic expression. 

Another argument that members of the band use is that bands compete with other bands for a championship. By this logic, speech and debate, chess, piano or virtually everything else would be a sport. This falls into a slippery slope that devalues the hard work of athletes and misclassifies the efforts of others such as musicians, not recognizing the disparity between the two of them. 

What is more frustrating about marching band is that it’s up to judges to determine who performed best. Some judges could have bias, so even if a band executed a better performance, they could still lose. Sports fans complain about officials making bad calls, and those “judges” merely enforce the rules of the game. Imagine if the entire decision of who won a football or basketball game was based on who a referee thought played better; there would be outrage throughout the entire sports world. 

Moreover, I’d debate whether activities such as figure skating, dance or gymnastics are sports because, like marching band, they are solely based upon the decision of judges, who can have predisposed notions. The team who scored more points should decide the outcomes of games or matches — thus sports should have set guidelines that allow people to reach a consensus that closes any discussion on who won the game. Once again, marching band is a performing art, and activities such as figure skating or dance are too because they demonstrate a creative expression.

Activities such as football shouldn’t be in the same class as marching band. It’s almost like fruit and dessert; while they have some similar features, they don’t belong in the same category. Both are sweet, but one is healthier to eat than the other. In the case of football and marching band, both involve competing and physical activity. One is a sport, however, and the other isn’t.

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Do you think marching band is a sport? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!