clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should We Still Have Marching Bands at College Football Games?

Getty Images

In the age of jumbotrons, loud music and the myriad of distractions a fan has at a college football game, are marching bands still necessary? The band plays a team's fight song, leads cheers and performs the halftime show....but are we still paying attention?

I'm not against the marching band at all, I think they are one of the key elements in the pageantry of college football. NFL games have a lot different feel, whether or not that's due to bands, absence of a student section or just lack of pride to a NFL team I don't know. Marching bands have their place in college football - no doubt, but are they being over-run by the jumbotron? Are fans annoyed by the band or entertained?

I've been to some games where the jumbotron was running a commercial, or there was a song playing over the loud speaker while the band was playing. If you're in the upper deck chances are you don't even hear the band when that happens - your attention goes to the jumbotron. It's annoying when they are both competing for the same sound waves, but that doesn't happen too often. The question is, which do fans prefer to hear during breaks in the game...the band or recorded music?

There are pros and cons to marching bands. CONS: if you are sitting next to them they can be loud and annoying; they sometimes play the same song over and over (see: Rocky Top); their halftime song selection can reach epically lame levels. PROS: they lead the cheers when your team scores; their pre-game festivities (outside and inside the stadium) are always fun; they can make cool formations and keep your children entertained at halftime.

I wish State did this - but one of the coolest things I think a marching band does is have that lead guy high-stepping across the field as the band enters before the game. In fact, pre-game on-field is where bands shine the most. Halftime has always left a lot to be desired for me...but I'm usually in the restroom or at the concession stand anyway.

But back to my question: bands or recorded music? If there were no bands, you'd have more seating in the stadium and wouldn't have to pay scholarship money to band members (if the only reason we've got a band is so they can have $500 a semester, gimme a break). You'd also have to pipe the fight song through the loud speakers, and it wouldn't be live. But would we even notice? Don't most people pay more attention to the new rock song being played than when the band is performing?

It seems like the jumbotron, recorded music and the marching band are all competing for time during the game to play. I don't like that. I'm really not a big fan of commercials, and I'm not a big fan of the recorded music. But I know a lot of people are, and they want to hear Maroon 5's latest song or whatever. I love recorded music at baseball and basketball games - just not football.

If it were up to me, here's what I'd do: play commercials non-stop (maybe with the occasional recorded song snuck in there from time to time) from the time the gates open until 15 minutes before at the movie theater. Get all of those out of the way and let the marching band take over for pregame intros. Of course, while the band is being seated just before kickoff you've got to blast something to get everyone pumped up. But I wouldn't play anymore recorded music except between quarters. Maybe we could even find a song that could be a tradition like the Red Sox fans singing "Sweet Caroline" in the 8th inning at Fenway. Show a commercial or two at halftime and let the band do their thing.

If we're going to have the order of it be: band, commercial, song, band, song, song over band, commercial over band, song, etc. then why even have the band? When the jumbotron is on, it's blasting. Then five minutes later the folks in the upper deck are cupping their ears to hear the band playing. Pick one or the other. Honestly, I really don't like the distraction of the jumbotron. It draws you in like hypnosis. I love it for replays, but the commercials and music take a little away from the game.

I really think a marching band is important to the tradition of college football. I hate that they are being drowned out by the jumbotron and loud music. I feel like one or the other should be the emphasis, and not share time competing for our ears.