Halftime Show: Is Marching Band a Sport?

halftime-show-marching-band-sport Credit: Pixabay
When referencing the dictionary definition of the word "sport," marching band fits all of the criteria. However, people argue both sides of this topic, making it unclear in which category marching band belongs.

Marching Band Requires Physical Exertion
The first criterion listed under the definition of sport is that it is an activity that requires physical exertion. While some marching bands do more than others, many require intense physical effort. Members of the marching band must remember choreography and coordinated movements while marching in an area as large as a football field or walking in a parade. This takes place outdoors in all types of weather, ranging from intense summer heat to the bitter cold of winter. Additionally, members must carry their musical instruments, with some weighing between 20 and 40 pounds. Members must be in shape in order to perform the necessary movements without sustaining an injury or suffering from exhaustion.

Marching Band Requires Skill
Another criterion for an activity to be classified as a sport is that it requires skill. This is true of marching band wherein members not only have to perform choreography but must also be able to play a musical instrument and memorize music. Many people who try out for marching band have been playing their instruments for several years and practice as many as six to eight hours per day in order to hone their skills. People can argue that marching band requires mastering skills in multiple categories aside from athleticism.

Marching Band Competitions
In order to be considered a sport, the activity requires competition. In a marching band competition, there are set rules. For example, members cannot bump into other members or else they lose points. Additionally, a panel of judges watches and critiques teams based on how well they execute their choreography and perform their music. Marching bands compete against each other, and the team with the highest score is the winner. Although marching bands do not compete with each other as often as other team sports, such as football or basketball, they do participate in competitions throughout the season.

Marching Band as Entertainment
The last set of criteria listed in the definition of sport is that people participate in this activity as entertainment for others. Many would argue that entertainment is the primary purpose of marching band. Team members spend hours choreographing different movements and memorizing music so that people in the stands can enjoy the performance. These performances often take place during halftime of another sporting event.

Other Criteria to Consider
Outside of the dictionary definition, there are other arguments to make in support of marching band being a sport. Members of marching bands are held to the same standards as other student athletes in regards to academic standing, conduct and drug/alcohol use. If members fail to adhere to these requirements, they may become ineligible to participate in marching band.

By all accounts, marching band is considered a sport. However, some still argue that it is not. People who make this argument often want to separate this activity from other sports and the stereotypes that go along with them. Others want to categorize marching band separately in order to focus on the musical aspect of the activity rather than the physical portion. In doing so, members of marching band are considered musicians rather than athletes.