There has always been a nagging question that continually finds its way into my mind and in some respects the minds of those who’ve taken the time out to be on the fields in the sun, rain, snow and sleet.
Is marching band a sport?
When posing this question to Benjamin Russell middle school director and marching band instructor Greg Coggin, he agrees that marching band is a sport. But only in some ways compared to a traditional sport like football, basketball, baseball and others.
On the one hand, it could fall under the category of no but due to similarities it shares with gymnastics, it could be a yes.
“Marching band can absolutely be a sport in the right scenario,” Coggin said. “In the marching band world, we have several different varieties of groups. We have groups that are more focused on the entertainment side. You’re talking about your HBCU bands, division-I bands, SEC bands, Big-Ten bands, their main goal is to entertain a crowd.
“That’s pretty much their entire function is to entertain a crowd and provide an atmosphere for a football game,” he continued. And then you have a totally different kind of band – a more competitive style of a band which is a lot more focused on the artistry, musicality and the visual aspects and everything else that goes into performing.”
The competitive style of the band could fall under the category of being at Broadway musicals in a way to Coggin. From the choreography to the dance aspect and even props that tell a story the similarities to everyday sports don’t end there for the band.
Coggin says that it’s all of those elements that can combine to produce a different experience on the field.
“At Benjamin Russell, we tend to kinda meet those two things in the middle,” Coggin said. “We think it’s very important to be able to entertain our crowd on a Friday night. We think it’s very important to be able to create that home field advantage and that crazy loud atmosphere inside our stadium and we always want to push our students to be better artists and better musicians and push those skills as well.
“Is it competitive? Absolutely. Is it entertaining? Absolutely,” he continued. “Is it a sport? Well, you can talk about the two or three things that make a sport, a sport.”
If you think of a sport, there are a few things on the outside that makes a sport. On the field of competition, it’s always teamwork that leads the way. No running back is anything without his offensive line and a pitcher can’t catch everything on his own.
The same can be said of a band especially on the teamwork side.
“Band, just like anything else is extremely reliant on the people around you,” Coggin said. “Not only do you have to listen to match your sound, match your pitch, match your volume, with the people next to you and have to look left and right to make sure you’re not the odd guy out of formation. It’s absolutely reliant on you being able to not only do your part but rely on the people around you to handle their part as well. It’s absolutely a team-based activity.
“Not only does band rely on a team it’s also very competitive as well,” he continued. “When we go to competitions we are scored and ranked based on home-field several different aspects of our performances including how well we’re uniformed with each other. How well we play in tune together, how well we march in time together and all the aspects and fundamentals that we teach our kids. Just like a sports team.”