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

Marching band is a performing art, not a sport

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. 

The fact that [members of the marching band] 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.”

Elliot Bachrach

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. 

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.”

Elliot Bachrach

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?
Do you think marching band is a sport?
Do you think marching band is a sport?

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

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24 comments

Bruh Moment February 18, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Marching Band

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Tierra March 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm

the fact that he said marching band follows the definition of a sport, but then disregarded it has me dying. You just broke down your own argument right then and there by introducing your opinion rather than actual facts.

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sara April 27, 2020 at 7:35 am

Sports are still sports if you have judges, are you going to tell the Olympics figure skating is not a sport? The Olympics even recognizes chess as a sport. Even Basketball coach Bobby Knight take his kids to watch a Marching band rehearsal after they complain how hard he pushes them. Stating
‘if a basketball team trained as hard as these kids do, it would be unbelievable”

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Jack H. September 13, 2020 at 10:04 pm

As someone who does marching band myself, I believe that it is a sport. I play euphonium marching variation (look it up) I must say it is huge. 7 pounds, and while it may not sound like much, try marching backwards on your toes, while exerting large amounts of air to fill up the horn for 9 minutes.

It sucks.

I frequently experience muscle fatigue. I work out 3 times a week after school, that is, when I’m not at 3 hours practices in 90 degree heat twice a week. I consider myself to be in excellent physical condition and can run a 15 minute 2 mile like it is nothing, but I am consistently amazed at the physical demands of band.

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A October 19, 2020 at 10:41 pm

Thank you so much for writing this!! I play euphonium as well, and living in AL, it is very difficult, along with the precise marching positions of your feet and body, whilst reciting a 10 minute long show with no breaks plus marching. I would like to see you, meet my school marching band requirements. Which is an under 11 minute mile, 5 scales, and marching in a block. All while having perfect technique and posture. Imagine this in the heat, sounds rough right? It doesn’t end there though. Put on a jacket, with pants kinda like overalls, a hat, and gloves. After long practices mutiple times a week, try to deal with the soreness and tiredness. Now tell me, is marching band a sport?

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JaCorey Deandre Benjamin June 26, 2020 at 4:58 pm

“Sports exclusively involve “physical exertion,” while marching band is more of a performing art“

So are you telling me that marching with a heavy drum or instrument isn’t physically exerting? We are running around on a field? Our bodies are prone to injuries just like other athletes in other sports. Come put on the biggest bass drums a marching band has and march around on a field for 8-12 minutes straight WITHOUT A BREAK in a heavy wool uniform, and then try to tell me that marching band isn’t a sport.

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Bobby June 28, 2020 at 4:12 pm

I was trying to find sources for some of the papers I have been writing and I passed by this one. Literally every argument you make you either contradict yourself or fail to fully explain in detail. You say that “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.”. The fact that there is the aspect of artistic expression doesn’t take away from the physical exertion aspect. That’s like saying, “well, the football team’s uniforms were very colorful, so they’re more of a performing arts team than a sport.” No, this does not make sense. Yes, obviously there is an artistic aspect to marching band, but one aspect does not diminish or eliminate the other. I don’t think you were ever in a marching band or competitive arts ensemble, so please, do a bit more research and think through your thoughts before writing.

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Jason June 30, 2020 at 2:45 pm

There are plenty of sports where there is a judge who decides wether they are good enough or not, not only that but you state that it is an art and you are correct however you need to understand you still need to put in physical activity in order to perform that art moving around the field with heavy instruments and even moving quickly across it is difficult for some people to do in general.

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Izayah Morales July 10, 2020 at 10:19 pm

He said a sport is physical exertion which means marching band is just a performing art marching band requires training such as condition choreography marching and holding an instrument that light weight or heavy which by yourself marching without an instrument works a lot of muscles marching with an instrument it’s exhausting and requires lots of muscles, training, balance, stamina, and muscle resistance to last for a period of time without getting tired so I would say yes marching band is a sport it is very physical

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Cam July 13, 2020 at 8:53 am

Have you done marching band? Have you ran around a field for 7-15 minutes carrying a 25 pound drum before? Marching band IS a sport. This article doesn’t do anything but show how your opinions make it not a sport. And for the record, the dictionary wouldn’t have any form of connotation. The dictionary is there to get straight to the point. Not have double meanings.

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Shemar Goins July 25, 2020 at 8:06 am

You described all other sports by saying it involves physical exertion and going against another team. I’m in marching band in the hot sun. We practice marching so that we can act as one team and go against another during halftime. If it wasn’t for us y’all wouldn’t have cheerleaders and y’all wouldn’t have motivation. So it is a sport and until you have marched on field in South west Arkansas you don’t even know the half of it.

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Maddie September 9, 2020 at 7:46 pm

My band does 3 and a half hours 2 times a week and 4 rehearsals that are 8 and a half hours long with only an hour dinner break. In the beginning our our rehearsals we have to run for 10 minutes straight and if we stop they add more time. We have to be out in the sun for hours on end. We have to be able to know how to play our instruments good, count for out music, count for our sets, be focused on our marching technique and also make sure our posture is great. At the end of each performance we are physically drained. Then we have tournament days and we have to be out from 12pm to 11(most likely later) at night. Ever performance of the show is 7-12 minutes long with no breaks in between. What football does is have 12 minutes per quarter but they probably only move around for like a minute at a time… Yes of course marching band is a performing art but should also be considered a sport. That’s also why we get PE credit for marching band. Why don’t you put these football players at one of our rehearsals and see how long they last? 🙂

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Wyatt Ricks January 21, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Preach my band mate!

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Krazykidgamer September 9, 2020 at 8:34 pm

This is wrong, the definition of a sport is the exact definition of marching band. physical exertion: marching around on a field for an extended period of time carrying heavy instruments in a specific posture, Skill: Have to memorize music and dots while staying in time and not being able to see where your going, while trying to look at the drum major and try to make a time tear because you are across a 100 ft field apart (totally exact). Individual or team: Marching band is a team that can only work as a team and needs more time to practice together than you can imagine. Competes against another or others for entertainment: literally there is a professional marching band called DCI that literally is like any other sport where they compete against one another to try to go to the world championships, for the ENTERTAINMENT FOR PEOPLE, like the Olympics, where people from around the world will go to see the competition CASED CLOSED marching band is a sport boom.

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K.L. October 8, 2020 at 10:53 am

By your definition, I would say that mixed martial arts also would not be classified as a sport as JUDGES often determine decisions. However, that is a ridiculous notion, thus discrediting your argument.

Marching band is a sport because it is based in both parts of the definition.

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I.L.M November 30, 2020 at 3:21 pm

(Once the show was in motion, the drummer’s heart rate remained steadily high, at about 200 beats per minute. That’s the same as the heart rate of an athlete running a 400-800 meter dash. The individual’s VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake, which measures how much oxygen can be processed and used by the body during vigorous exercise) varied, but the drummer’s rates were equivalent to a well-trained athlete in the middle of the marathon.) THIS is an actual study that has been preformed. if you think this is not a “sport” i would like to see you out on the field sometime with the uniform on in the september heat wave dripping sweat before you even start moving. Then on top of that remember your music, stay in step, and remember your drill. This has PHYSICAL INTERACTION and the BAND is your team. Thank you.

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Kassie O December 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm

I can almost guarantee the guy who wrote this is someone who has never in his life been in marching band or to see a marching band rehearsal.

By definition, marching band IS a sport.

I was a marcher. I marched flute. After 8 minutes, that 2 pound flute feels like 10. I invite this guy and anyone else who says marching band isn’t a sport to go through ONE rehearsal. Not even one, just go through ONE HALF. We train just as hard as any other sports team and to say it isn’t a sport is a lie. I dare everyone to go and try it before you make yourself look dumb.

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Skylar Murphy January 13, 2021 at 7:36 am

As a trombone in a marching band, you don’t know the pain we go through, it may not be the heaviest instrument, but by god, it hurts after holding for too long. Some trombones can weigh over 15 pounds, that may not seem like a lot, but holding it at 20 degrees exactly for 3 hours straight in 100 degree weather is not fun, plus, unlike the football team, we are unable to improvise. I can say on behalf of all marching band players, THIS IS A SPORT!

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Brenna Humphries January 19, 2021 at 7:49 am

I’m just gonna say this; as someone who’s in drumline, the author has never seen DCI or WGI, and it shows

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Wyatt Ricks January 21, 2021 at 2:57 pm

As a fellow trombone player in a marching band and a person who has also played sports I have to say a marching band puts in more time and effort into what they do. Marching band is more than just physical work, it is also mental input as well. BY DEFINITION MARCHING BAND IS A SPORT.

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S. A. January 31, 2021 at 7:53 pm

I don’t know what other people’s bands are like, but I know that my band puts in very little effort. As a member of the band I find it incredibly frustrating when there are a grand total of 6 of us who actually put in the effort for me to be willing to call it a sport. Even then, I would only say that it is an activity. It is a physical one, but still only an activity. However, I will say that drum corps is a sport (from experience). The amount of effort on both the physical and mental level far outweighs any marching band that I have ever seen. There have even been studies that show some DCI marchers have the oxygen intake of someone half way though a 5 k while having a heart rate that matches someone who just finished an 800 meter dash. Even my fellow senior band members would agree with this sentiment. I will not say that marching band is a sport, but if someone asks about drum corps, I will completely agree.

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Jeffrey March 10, 2021 at 9:19 am

Marching band is a sport. “[A sport is] an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
Marching band takes a ton of physical exertion, as many people know. It also takes practice and skill for everyone, making sure everyone is in step and knows how to count different time signatures. Marching bands also very commonly compete with one another, such as in Drum Corps International. Not only that, but many high school marching bands do in fact compete against one another.

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Jeffrey March 10, 2021 at 9:20 am

Marching band is a sport. “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
Marching band takes a ton of physical exertion, as many people know. It also takes practice and skill for everyone, making sure everyone is in step and knows how to count different time signatures. Marching bands also very commonly compete with one another, such as in Drum Corps International. Not only that, but many high school marching bands do in fact compete against one another.

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Antoine March 17, 2021 at 11:33 am

All they have to do is look at DCI and HBCU bands. The practice styles of those two style bands alone classify marching band as a sport.

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