arts

A musical sport



What I expected was a glorified marching band. What I got was so much more.

I was in Bloomington last summer when the hordes of Drum Corps International members raided campus. When they arrived, I was interning in Bedford. And when they left, I was in that awkward transitional phase where I was moving and I didn’t have any time to relax.

But I was given the opportunity to see the Drum Corps International World Championships on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

All I knew heading into the stadium was that there were going to be bands and instruments – that’s it. I went to the championships with a coworker who was already familiar with the type of event it was. He had seen drum corps before, and he was in marching band in high school. I turned to him before it started and asked him if drum corps was considered a sport.

He denied that marching band was a sport, but he supported the notion that people involved in drum corps needed to be athletic to participate. I had to see it to believe it.
But he was right.

With about 175 members in each band, each group had about 15 minutes to perform a show based off a song. The first few performances didn’t do the trick for me. I didn’t really understand it.
But then I really watched.

It was the Troopers, a drum and bugle corps from Wyoming, that made me see it was so much more than 175 people holding instruments. The color guard members were dressed as Native Americans, and the band itself seemed to be some sort of military unit. The Troopers’ performance was titled “Western Side Story.”

And I really saw it. At that moment, it wasn’t 175 people meandering aimlessly on synthetic turf – it was a carefully constructed story and it was beautiful. At the end of the 15-minute performance, I stood up and gave the drum corps a round of applause – something that every drum and bugle corps that performed that night deserved.

By the end of the night, I still wasn’t sure if drum corps was a sport, but it was definitely more than what I thought it was.

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