Libra Academy at Linda Esperanza Marquez

Marching Band… a sport?

When the topic of marching band is brought up, many students assume how “easy” it is to go out on a field and play several songs that have to be memorized to near perfection. If marching band is not considered a sport, then ask yourself this: can you march 12 plus miles, while staying aligned with your rank and file (rows and columns)? Can you make sure your marching is coordinated with everyone else’s in the band? Can you maintain your sharp visuals, or play an instrument that could possibly weigh up to 40 pounds while marching? According to the Oxford Dictionary, a sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

“Well if band does competitions, then it is a sport,” said senior Henry Rositas.

“Since chess does competitions, then chess is a sport, too right?” senior Alex Morales added as he overheard Rositas’ answer.

But the question still remains, is marching band a sport?

It is widely assumed that marching band is just a performing art; many do not see the countless hours of hard work band members do everyday. Recently, LAUSD hosted its 43rd All City District Honor Band (All City), in which over 300 students dedicated not only their Saturdays in October, but also their winter vacation in December and January. The participants practice endlessly just to perform at the Disneyland Magic Music Days Parade, Bandfest, the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade and the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. After having sheet music for as little as five weeks with songs packed to the page, the band members were required to have the six songs memorized.

“It may sound easy to memorize the music but when we received the sheet music, the directors expected us to know how to sight-read (reading and performing without preparation) and play the songs” commented Aldo Sierra, a drum major.

Along with the music memorization, these students condition themselves to march at high step (which is marching with your feet high at a 90-degree angle while having your feet pointed down) uphill, downhill and along jagged streets. Having six band members in the entire school of Marquez to try out for All City but then having only MaryJane Navarro (HPIAM), Aldo Sierra (HPIAM), Salvador Cortes (HPIAM) and Gabrielle Martinez (LIBRA) actually fulfilling and committing to all of the rigorous work.

Sierra, who participated in All City for two consecutive years felt that “many people wouldn’t have considered marching band a sport; but I would feel that they would understand that marching band isn’t just standing still and playing music. It’s more than that. We [participants in All City] have to march in uniforms that weigh 20 pounds for miles at a time.”

Marching with about 60 pounds would cause someone to build stamina and endurance to overcome fatigue. Kind of sounds like all sports, doesn’t it?

With Libra Academy consisting of predominantly student-athletes, the answer to whether marching band is a sport was quite surprising. Omar Juarez, a varsity football player, expressed why he believes marching band is a sport.

“Don’t you carry that thing [referring to the sousaphone weighing on average 40 pounds] on your shoulder? I know I wouldn’t be able to do that for so long, so yes marching band is a sport,” he said.

When conducting my interviews, hearing that a football player agreed that marching band was a sport was shocking primarily because football is viewed as one of the dominant sports in general. When asking Erick Vaquero what his thoughts were on seeing marching band as a sport, he commented that “it simply wasn’t a sport.” When I had asked why he didn’t see marching band as a sport he had no comment.

A former high school basketball player had stated “marching band is a sport because of the synchronization that is used during each halftime performance when the members are marching.”

Marching band is presumed to be just walking, standing still and playing music, but parents even realize that marching band is so much more. Parent Jaime DiJohn explained how she at first did not consider marching band a sport, but having her daughter participate in All City, made her realize all the behind-the-scene work that is put into each performance. Another parent, Efren Lopez, also stated how “band requires endurance to march, play and hold up the instruments while sometimes even dancing.”

In most sports, all that is required is to run and look for an opening to score, but how would marching band score if it’s a sport? Well marching band plays at least a five-minute competitive song while performing a field show. A competitive song has various rhythms that are typically harder and longer than songs played at football games. Depending on the size of the marching band, it is then split up into different categories which is similar as to how sport teams are split into divisions. Once each band has performed, judges nitpick every detail about the band. Was the entire band in uniform? Were they all in sync with each other? Were there any notes that were played wrong? If there is one mistake, there goes the marching band’s score.

One of the biggest misconceptions about marching band is that they do not do as much as other sports. Many say that marching band “just plays music”, “they don’t do anything”, “they just walk” etc. But understand the same amount of time and energy that goes into soccer or football or basketball goes into band as well. Are activities only considered sports if they are vigorous as football, actively running as soccer or as engaging like basketball? In reality, the answer is no. Band may not be as vigorous as football or action packed as soccer but it does require a lot of physical and mental fitness. Unlike most sports, band isn’t able to take a pause in the middle of their performance. All of those long hours of practice are then showcased to the crowd; if a member messes up the band director cannot call a time-out and recuperate. Take in consideration all of the work that isn’t typically seen when you assume band isn’t a sport.


  • Reply bridget October 10, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    lord bless who wrote this. Me and a friend found this and spent 10 minutes reading and coping this. i am literally putting this in my bands hall way. This is all so true and we are so elated that some one out there gets is!


  • Reply Bennett Booker October 27, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    this is so biased, someone from marching band obviously wrote this, only people in that activity would consider it a sport, ask any actual athlete like a football player, and if marching band is a sport how come most of the members of most high school bands are so unhealthy?


    • Reply Olivia October 29, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      hm, how would you like to carry some 55 pound tenors or perhaps a snare and try marching around 10+ miles?


    • Reply Danielle November 2, 2017 at 11:14 am

      okay. i am in the marching band and i wrote an argument just like this. if you are so concerned, please wright me an argument. prove to me that marching band is not a sport. The reason that a marching band member would wright an argument is because it bothers me like crazy when people like yourself go around talking shit about the marching band when they haven’t a clue what we even do. and the reason you don’t typically see someone who has not been in the marching band writing an argument is because they would have no clue what they are talking about. if you want an “unbiased” argument, please be my guest. i will gladly prove you wrong with the facts.


      • Reply Olivia November 30, 2017 at 6:30 am

        preach, just saying it’s write, but I agree with everything you said.


      • Reply Michael Silveus August 6, 2018 at 8:52 pm

        Ok, I’m in marching band, I’ve done it for 4 years now so I know very well how stuff goes on inside and out. I say marching band is not a sport. It doesn’t require you to je athletic, it’s nit physically demanding, and you don’t even have to try that hard to do it. I’m a cross country runner as well. That is a real sport. You take a random band kid and throw him into either that or another sport, they’d get the snot beat outta them. As for the weight, I play bass trombone. It’s not that hard to hold that thing up for hours on end. So for all those people that think someone doesn’t know something just cuz they disagree with you here it is. MARCHING BAND IS NOT A SPORT NOR WILL IT BE!!!


    • Reply Gabby Martinez December 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Hello Bennett! I’d like to inform you that I’m the writer of this article. (I wrote this in my senior year, I am currently a college sophomore). I also would like to let you know that I was apart of basketball and did other sports besides marching band. I was not biased, I’d like to believe that I was neutral. I shined the light on some activities that many aren’t aware of. I do want to thank you for proving that my argument is right. My English teacher always told me that a good essay will make others question your topic. So thank you for your feedback on my essay that I put in a lot of work into. I hope one day you can make articles/essays and other works that make people question their beliefs too.


    • Reply Sofia M. February 13, 2018 at 7:24 am

      They did ask a football player and he claimed it was a sport.


    • Reply Sofia M. February 13, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Not only that…but if you were to write an essay or article about marching band being a sport, it would be extremely bias. As said you probably wouldn’t be able to carry around a 40 pound instrument and march in coordinated patterns.


    • Reply Sofia M. February 14, 2018 at 6:42 am

      Not only so, but if for say someone said that football was a sport, would a football player be bias as to argue back to this statement?


    • Reply Sofia M. February 14, 2018 at 6:45 am

      Also what are you to say that someone is unhealthy? What are the terms for someone to be considered “unhealthy”? How do you know that most people in marching band are unhealthy? My sister for a fact is very healthy and is in marching band.


    • Reply Claire February 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      I’ve done track and speed skating as well as marching band. The exhaustion that one experiences at the end of performing a marching band show is more severe than that of running a 5K or completing a one hour practice session of speed skating. In one show, a member in a drum corps will burn over 700 calories. Band kids do conditioning. We are required to run, stretch and do exercises to build muscle before each rehearsal.We spend hours outside rehearsal each day perfecting our visuals, marching technique, and music. We are a team, and we compete against other teams. We get scored, and we go all over the state and country to competitions. Please tell me, how is this not a sport?


    • Reply Aidan Canny November 1, 2018 at 5:32 am

      I mean they even asked a football player in the article and your opinion is pretty biased too because I bet you aren’t a band person, so you would not understand.


    • Reply Maryn Myler November 27, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Except that they did ask a football player. And let me ask you this. Is tennis as physically exerting as football or cross country? No, but it is still a sport.


    • Reply Mariama October 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

      that is not true, there are not that many unhealthy people, there are so many people who play a sport and also plays a sport. why do you assume that if someone plays an instrument that they are ¨unhealthy or fat¨.


  • Reply Bruce Mcgillem December 13, 2017 at 2:02 am

    Wow Gabby, you made some really good points but so did Bennet. I just want to say that I respect you Gabby for Bennett’s criticism/questioning of your essay.


  • Reply Noah M. April 16, 2018 at 6:26 am

    I agree with you Gabby. I’ve done 2 years of marching band myself along with watching my 5 older siblings compete and preform, and there is nothing more exhausting than marching band. I have also played basketball for 4 years, football for 1, cross country for 3, and soccer for 1. They have no comparison to marching band. And to Bennett, how about you try marching band before you make a biased statement about how it is not a sport.


  • Reply Aidan Canny August 9, 2018 at 8:16 am

    I’m at school and people are saying Marching Band isn’t a sport, but they say it’s an extracurricular activity. I’m not sure how to explain to them how it is a sport.


  • Reply Amy Winters October 10, 2018 at 10:29 am

    It’s interesting that marching band requires strict mental and physical fitness even though it’s not as vigorous as other sports like football. My son is interested in joining his school’s marching band, so I’ve been doing some research into the benefits that marching band offers. I didn’t realize all of the preparation and hard work that marching band requires; it seems like my son could really benefit from it!


  • Reply Karly C October 18, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I always hear so many people talking bad about marching band kids, because ‘marching band isn’t a sport’, ‘all they do is walk around on the football field’, and ‘they’re all nerds’. It’s cool to hear someone’s opinion on why marching band is/isn’t a sport. I’ve been a part of band for a about 5 years, and I’ve always made fun of for being a band kid, and being in marching band, because it’s “not a sport”. This article may be written by a person in band, but that doesn’t exactly mean that they’re biased. Thanks Gabby for this awesome article.


  • Reply Michael Silveus October 18, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Yes people talk Band about us Band kids, yes we get made fun of. Who cares. Grow up. I’m in my senior year and I’ve done marching band all of high school. It’s not as hard as y’all make it out to be. It fairly easy to memorize the music. I still have the show from my freshman year memorized and I have all the Stand tunes memorized. As for the physical part, it’s not really demanding. Yes you may be out of breath or winded but it is no where near the exhaustion you feel from an actual sport. I run cross country, track, I workout with the football players, and I play basketball. Those are physically demanding. You try to throw a random band kid that doesn’t do sports into one of those, chances are they’d pass out. Band and marching band is a hobby. It’s something you take part in and have fun in. Yes there is competing, yes there is scoring and yes there is traveling. Any hobby you have is capable of all those. That doesn’t make it a sport. Anyone can do marching band. Not anyone can play a sport. Marching band isn’t, and will never be a sport.


  • Reply Caleb Jones January 25, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Band is NOT a sport. It is not an actual competition because the definition of a competition is,” the person or people with whom one is competing, especially in a commercial or sporting arena; the opposition.” In marching band they aren’t competing because they are just showing how good they are towards the judges, you can’t do anything to get an edge over the other teams. If it was a sport it would have rules from either the NCAA or your states sports organisation, like how Indiana has the IHSAA. The thing is both of those organizations by-laws say nothing about marching bad. All sports require a physical to practice and compete. The thing is you don’t have to have a physical for marching band. In band it is pretty much a talent show because you are just showing how talented your band is towards the judges


    • Reply Aurora Cooper February 7, 2019 at 5:59 am

      It is a sport to all of us people don’t see the hard work that we do and we also do competitions just like every other sport does


      • Reply Tyson Boyd March 20, 2019 at 6:04 am

        Its not a sport. Most people try to play the “You do not see how hard we work.” when in reality football players and all other sports throughout the year work much harder.


    • Reply Aidan Canny February 8, 2019 at 7:45 am

      Ok then let me ask you this, can you memorize seven minutes of music, march about a mile and a half in perfect steps all while playing music that has to project into the stands so people can hear you? Also, have you marched through your show over and over and over from 9 am to 5 pm in 90-degree weather? I don’t think so. So don’t say it’s not physically demanding. Also, why does almost every marching band have more trophies than the football team?


      • Reply Tyson Boyd March 20, 2019 at 6:08 am

        Because you’re given them for doing almost nothing, or just participating. Also, no we do not go through that, we go through much worse. 6 hour days for 3 weeks wearing 30 pounds of padding and it being made of plastic and thick materials, while the only time you’re in heavy uniform is during games.


        • Reply Aidan Canny April 29, 2019 at 5:11 am

          Games, so it is a sport…


        • Reply Karly C September 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

          Ok. Band Camp is 2-3 weeks before school starts, and we are marching outside in 90 degree and above heat, for 8 hours a day. And you are wrong, we also practice in uniforms before football games and competitions, and sometimes in 90 degree heat or higher in our 90% wool uniforms, and all they do is absorb heat and there is absolutely no ventilation at all. I’d like to see you try doing that.


        • Reply Brayden September 19, 2019 at 7:12 am

          PS: 9am to 5pm is longer than 6 hours


  • Reply Aurora Cooper February 7, 2019 at 5:57 am

    I am in the band and my school doesn’t consider it a sport but in my definition, it is a sport.


  • Reply Lily Houk June 25, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I know that I may be inexperienced as I’m only going to be a junior next year, but should we really be arguing? People are going to think what they want, few people are going to change their minds…. As long as us band kids know the difference between sport and not sport there is no right or wrong. Because in some aspects it may not be a sport but in others it is. I am a firm believer that being in marching band is being in a sport, but others may not feel that way and I wont try to teach them. Its just not worth it to try and tell them about it if they themselves have not experienced it.


  • Reply heath sharp July 17, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    First of all we go to practice almost every day and we also do stuff during most of the summer we’re lucky if we even have free time while you only do stuff half of the year we work all year during and out of school wow you were thick material and plastic if you play sousaphone like me you cary about 50 pounds and we march through for miles blowing our horns to make music which we have to memorize while getting little to no breaks and if we do get breaks it’s only for about 1 minute each while in football you have 10 minutes or longer and while making music for us which use air most can Hyperventilate and pass out we practice for hours and we compete against other teams and if even one of makes a mistake there is no stopping so by definition marching band is a sport (definition of sport:an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.)


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