Is Marching Band a Sport? Here’s Why We Say Yes!

My daughter was talking with a friend the other day about being in Marching Band her friend (we’ll call him Max) was poking fun at her for calling Marching Band a sport. Rightfully so my daughter defended herself. She let Max know about the amount of physical exertion and practice required of her to be in the Marching Band. After sharing this conversation with me I thought we should put the subject to rest once and for all!

Marching Band is not officially recognized as a sport, but because of its strenuous physical demands and its competitive nature, it fits the definition of a sport. Marching Band is an activity that involves skill as well as physical exertion performed with a team that competes against others for entertainment.

Unfortunately, because Marching Band is not as popular as other sports it may be hard for some people like Max to believe that is actually considered a sport. Here is my argument to see if I can change his mind.

What Defines a Sport defines a sport as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature” then it mentions racing, baseball, bowling, and a few others.

Wikipedia says “Sport pertains to any form of competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectators.”

Does Marching Band require skill? …… Yes!

Does Marching Band require and improve physical ability? … Yes!

Does Marching Band require athleticism? ….. Yes!

Is Marching Band competitive? ….. Yes!

Does Marching Band provide entertainment or enjoyment to an audience? ….. Yes!

Can you get injured in Marching Band? …. Yes!

Marching Band fits every aspect of the definition of a sport!

Is Marching Band a sport? YES!

Does Marching Band Require Skill

Marching Band requires a lot of different skills. These skills include teamwork, endurance, proper technique, marching, musical timing & rhythm, synchronization, flexibility, and technical knowledge of how to play their specific instrument.

Marching Band Requires Teamwork

Working together for a common purpose as a team is a hallmark of any sport. There can be anywhere from 12 to 200 players and flaggers on a Marching Band team.

Each instrument section works together to learn their parts musically as well as learning proper movements and marching across the field.

Each team member needs to be aware of their team members’ strengths and weaknesses so that they can help each other improve, they also need to work together to make their sounds and movements synchronized and flow together.

Marching Band Requires Endurance

Even though the typical halftime show that a Marching Band performs in is only 5-15 minutes long practices often last an hour or more.

During band campMarching Band will sometimes practice all day. Instruments such as percussion and tubas can be very heavy and require a lot of arm and core body strength to carry and march with.

Over the summer my daughter attends band camp as a member of the Marching Band with her high school.

The first-week runs from 8 am to 5 pm with a short lunch break in the middle of the day. The next week goes from 8 am to 9 pm every day practicing drills with the Marching Band as well as practicing on their own with just the Marching Band.

During band camp, while the Marching Band is inside sitting and rehearsing the Color guard is often still on their feet practicing movements and tosses.

Marching Band is a very physically demanding sport!

Marching Band Requires Knowledge and Technique

Just like a lot of sports have a playbook Marching Band has something similar that needs to be studied and understood, and that is a drill chart. Knowing the technical terms and understanding how to implement them together with the team is a huge part of this sport.

Being in Marching Band also requires you to learn marching techniques such as standing at attention, proper posture, propping the instrument on command, marching in time, marching forwards and backward.

Marching Band Requires Flexibility, Timing, and Rythm

Just as Gymnastics requires flexibility, Basketball and Football are about good timing, and believe it or not Baseball requires some degree of rhythm Marching Band uses ALL of these things!

Because of the movements involved in Marching Band flexibility of the body is important. A drum major, in particular, needs to have astounding flexibility and timing.

Timing the precise movement of marching together with your team is important to score well in competitions, and an overall rhythm and flow help Marching Band members sync up making their movements have an impact on the audience.

Are Marching Band Members Athletes?

Marching Band Requires Physical Ability and Athleticism. While many people may not consider Marching band members athletes, performing in Marching Band requires stamina and physical coordination. Members may experience fatigue and sore muscles similar to athletes.

While Color Guard is often the most mobile and quickly moving part of the Marching Band all members of the band may have parts of the show that require them to move quickly. Not only do they march in step, but they may run, leap, jump, and dance as well. 

In one of my daughter’s drills for her halftime show this year she is required to leap in several short counts (Jazz Run) from one position in the field to nearly the other side of the field.

When I was in marching band we did a Michael Jackson show that required us to set our instruments down and in perfect unison perform a dance. The audience LOVED it!

If you are not physically fit these short bursts of high-intensity movements along with maintaining the physical demands of the rest of the show can be very challenging.

Marching Band is Competitive

At a high school level, Marching Bands in the fall will compete against regional bands usually on the weekends. This often involves traveling to different schools and performing at an assigned timeslot in front of an audience and judges.

The judges will critique the players on a range of skills including musicality, technical execution, and synchronization. The band then gets a score and feedback on how to improve their show.

Marching Band Provides Entertainment and Enjoyment to an Audience

Many football fans can attest that sometimes the most exciting part of the football game is the halftime show. I remember being in the Marching band at Utah State University and feeling hyped and extremely nervous to perform in front of a huge homecoming audience.

We did some pretty fantastic shows. One was a tribute to the Beatles, and one was all about Scooby doo. The shows were meticulously choreographed and definitely entertaining.

Getting the crowd going with cheers and yelling was one of my favorite things about performing!

At my daughter’s high school they will often invite spectators to come and watch the competitions. They may even charge a small sum of money as an entrance fee. The money goes towards paying for the costs of Marching Band.

Is it not typical that a sport is meant to perform and entertain an audience in exchange for a fee to watch the game?

Thanks, Renee M. for use of your photo!

Can You Get Injured in Marching Band?

Yes, getting injured in Marching Band is a real possibility. Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common. Because the instruments are heavy and practices are so demanding, strained muscles or other injuries can be common. Ankle sprains are also common injuries from marching.

As with any sport you have to take a calculated risk as well as precautions to try and minimize that risk. Marching Band members often wear gloves as well as have very sturdy athletic shoes to help support and avoid injury.

I remember towards the beginning of my daughter’s first year in Color Guard she came home one day with a black and purple knee with a big gash in the center. Apparently, she had hit it just right with the end of her flag and it caused quite a bit of injury and pain. Luckily it was just superficial and not anything too serious.

Is Marching Band a Olympic Sport?

Of the 46 different Olympic sports Marching Band is not one, however, there are many people who would like to make it an Olympic sport. You can find many petitions online to sign that are trying to prove that Marching Band is a sport and should be included in the Olympics.

Artistic Gymnastics is most likely the closest related sport that is currently in the Olympics.

Why is Marching Band Not Considered a Sport?

Marching Band is not considered a sport because of the naivety of people to understand the amount of physical exertion and work involved in learning and executing routines. It can also be because it lacks in popularity behind cheerleading and other dance-like sports that get more attention.

Marching Band only needs to get its chance to be in the spotlight so people can realize how exciting, powerful, and difficult a sport it is. Once this happens then I believe everyone will unanimously agree that Marching Band is a sport!!

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