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From The 13th Chair Trombone Player

Humorous and inspiring author DJ Corchin offers his unique observations about life in the world of marching bands.

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Home > From The 13th Chair Trombone Player > Sport, Art, or...Spart?

From The 13th Chair Trombone Player:
Sport, Art, or...Spart?

By DJ Corchin
Posted June 2, 2010

The year is 2072. Alex Johnson just renewed his contract for 3 years, $7.1 billion with the Detroit IronValves. Spirited fans of the franchise known as "Valveholes" (sometimes called just "Holes") have been nervously following the negotiations since the National DrumCorps League (NDL) imposed a salary cap. From The 13th Chair Trombone Player Johnson has been a key player in the organization and has helped boost attendance at Maynard Ferguson stadium in recent years. The last time they won a championship was in '28, five years after DCI merged with the PGA to form the NDL, and only one year after golf was deemed "uneventful" and removed. News of Johnson's re-signing hit the collective (formerly known as the "internet") late last night. This comes as a welcomed distraction for fellow lead soprano Brice Belmonte who has recently been caught up in the now famous "Auto-Play" scandal. After being outed by former girlfriend and IronValve Valvette Stacy Montecarlo-Rivera-Weinstein, Belmonte is now at the center of a government probe into the illegal use of Auto-Play during competition. Auto-Play was developed 10 years ago when the developers of Auto-Tune, a popular audio software at the turn of the century used to correct the pitch of "singers," partnered with bioengineers to develop nanobots who reside in the muscle structure of the player's lips. The tiny bots instantly open and close the small opening air travels through (aperture) correcting pitch and tone. Auto-Play is also proscribed as an anti-diarrhea medication.


Poop jokes aside, marching band is NOT a sport. It does at times require athletic skills but so does performing in 42nd Street. You wouldn't call that a sport. Now if you look at one definition of "sport" you might have a case:

1. An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

However, I believe that definition is shortsighted. Besides, the dictionary also defines "sport" as:

2. An animal or plant showing striking variation from the parent type esp. in form or color as a result of spontaneous mutation.

Which I guess if you've spent any time with a tuba player that might be true as well. (Yep a cheap shot at the tubas. Feel my literary wrath!)

If we define our beloved activity as a sport I don't think we do it justice for what it really is at its core: Art. People spend hours, months, even seasons creating on a canvas with a palette of music, movement, and yes sometimes props. Just because it's sometimes on a field (let's not forget winter guard) and we compete, doesn't make it a sport. People have also suggested it's both. Not sport or art, but spart. Why? Because we run around and sweat during events? We eat at marching events also. What would we call it if we combined food and art? Hehehe :)

I think sometimes we feel the need to define it as a sport out of pure ego. That if it's not a "sport" there is a lack of legitimacy to it. To me that's the old "jocks vs. geeks" cliché. And that's just dumb.

The closest I'll come to calling marching band a sport is MAYBE "competitive art." But the majority of bands in the United States don't compete. I'm not saying there's not a decent argument to call the activity a sport, I'm simply stating that we have a choice to define it as something better. Yay Geeks win! In your face ;)

About the Author: DJ Corchin is author of the celebrated humorously inspiring book, Band Nerds Poetry From The 13th Chair Trombone Player. He was a featured performer in the first national Broadway tour of the Tony and Emmy award winning show, BLAST! where he was best known as the "unicycling trombonist." A pop recording artist out of Chicago and former high school band director, he continues to be involved in marching bands and music education through speaking events, competitions, and organizations such as Music for All. He will be publishing two more books and releasing a new album in 2010. Mr. Corchin welcomes your comments via email. Mr. Corchin is an independent contributor so his views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of

Text by DJ Corchin. Trombone illustration by Dan Dougherty.

Copyright 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.

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