Isn’t it the eternal debate – which is better, the Marching Band or the Football Team. Sometimes this is dependent on what school you went to. While we had a multitude of pride in our band, our town was all about the football. There was other schools in the district that were all about the band. The quality and breadth of a football focus normally reflects on the football team (though my alma mater hasn’t had a great season since my senior year). The inspiration and investment in a band program also heavily reflects in their quality.
In reality while everyone has their own bias in which one is better, they both have their place within the community. While I have other posts about band that I have in the wings that have not been completed, let’s just say from the picture above I’m not football focused. In reality though, both groups do respect the field as a church. They have different ways they practice their respective religion.
It is a religion. Both of them are in a community sponsored group that accepts them and builds them up. They have a strong support structure behind them. They believe in their ways. Their truth is out there and they will wear it for all the world to see. The reverence they display to the field is very similar to the way they view a chapel. Here is the truth. Here is my calling. Here is my redemption.
The football will bleed on the field and do their best. They are designed from the beginning to vanquish their opponents. All sports team are like that. You can’t be the best unless you surpass someone else. Your commitment is questioned if there is failure. This can easily go back to my days in high school when my alma mater had a spectacular team. I will never say the football players I went to school were not committed.
Football in the end is all about domination. We can sit back and truly try to say with is a straight face that’s it is about team spirit and cooperation. It is not. It’s a war. I’m sure this is all biased in the sense that we weren’t a competition band. Watching the football team though, it is all do or die. The football team is the group that if you sin you are going to hell. There is no redemption. It is what you bring to the field and leave out on the field. If you lose you aren’t remembered. Even if you are a winner, celebrating it your past victories just makes you sound like Al Bundy bragging about his three touchdowns in one game.
We had some good people on our football team, and some not so good. I don’t really buy into the alpha male mentality that is required of you if you are on the football team. Most of their best moments stay on that field dealing with the idea their gladitorial achievements accomplished something in the long term. It made some of them better people, it also left some of them with a lifetime of injuries that started before they were eighteen.
The band however is a different religion. It’s about joy and celebration. We truly were a team that accomplished something that didn’t have to tear anyone else down to get there. There is no sin, there is celebration of creation. I could almost quote the mantra from the movie Drumline – One Band, One Sound. The band (though some people have horror stories) accepted everyone. It was about what you bled, it was about what you loved.
Football players will go on about their time on the field. Band players spent at least twice the amount of time in that church. They would perform during the football games and then do it all over again on Saturday at band festivals. They have doubled it right there, then we add in parades and other performances. The band loves it so much they do it year round. After I graduated the band even had a concert that they held yearly in the auditorium.
I already mentioned the possibility of injuries football players take with them. Band players however take knowledge. Even if they never pick up an instrument again in their lives, they have gained the ability to play an instrument and read music. In the last couple years my alma mater has started playing a yearly alumni football game. This is what the draw of the field leads you to – the desire to return. I’m lucky that I’m a member of the alumni band. Yearly I get to perform under the lights “one more time”. I understand it. The lights have an intoxication and power that drives us back like moths.
Since even in my personal religion I’m more about celebration, band was a perfect fit. I’m sure many football players can identify when I say it gave me purpose and meaning. It made the boring monotony of high school pass that much easier. It was something that filled the void.
I did have a coworker that played both. He was on the football team and in the marching band. He would likely be the better one to write an article like this. He could be Switzerland to the feuding that will go on until the end of time. At least he could until football is outlawed due to injuries or the band is cut due to funding.
Battle or cooperation is what it finally comes down to. The football team is judged by their win/loss ratio. You can still love a team even if it loses, the Cleveland Browns are evidence of that. We will always question our love for that team. The band is judged on the straightness of lines and their ability to not miss notes. Both of those things can be covered up and be momentary – a loss though is forever a statistic.
I do feel bad for my fellow graduates of the football team. They don’t get to experience those lights and that attraction anymore. If they tried they would be risking serious injury. In that way it is unfair. The band get’s to practice their religion for a lifetime. The oldest member of the alumni band graduated in the 1950’s. A football player from that era would just be able to go down to the field and wave. The musician on the other hand still get’s down on the field and get’s under the lights one more time.
Normally I wouldn’t bother posting anything like this. I normally do my “here is what I did at alumni band this year”. I never got around to that post. The similarity of churches and how they celebrate religion struck a chord with me that I had to get out. The football team even prayed before the game thinking the Lord above would grant them privilege over the other praying team. The band however believed in celebrating themselves. The students that graduated after me had a mantra “What time is it? Band Time!” It is about what we brought to the table. Both groups left it out on the field – some just still practice their religion and not watching the televangelist on TV (broadcast sports).