Class. Competition.

Lanah Kopplin
Far too often, these two concepts seem to come to a front. Take, for example, the behavior of Randy Moss. Those who happened to catch the Packers/Vikings game on Sunday, or have seen pretty much any sports newscast since, will know what I'm talking about. His "antics" throughout the game can only be described as rude and classless. It's not uncommon for players to celebrate when their team makes a successful play, be it sacking the quarterback or scoring a touchdown. However, there is a fine line between celebrating one's successes and becoming a "sore winner." Randy Moss fits into the latter category. He used his personal and team successes as a way to put down anyone that belonged to, or cheered for, the opposing team -- the Packers. While the majority of the media has focused on his behavior in the end zone, I believe that his actions on the sidelines were far more inappropriate and telling of his lack of class. While the Minnesota defense was on the field, Moss took time to engage with his audience. Through the miracle of nationwide broadcasting, the entire country was able to watch him motion to the scoreboard and mouth expletives at fans. Classless. To make matters worse, fellow members of the Vikings team, as well as other notables in the National Football League, have come down on the side of Randy Moss. Some have considered his actions to be on the side of humor, while others have just passively accepted the fact that his actions are the source of much controversy. There is no certainty as to whether or not he will be punished, or if so, how severely. A controversy like this is rarely seen in the drum corps world. Although professional sports may have built a wall between the spirit of competition and the spirit of the competitors, drum corps has found a way to combine the two in a successful, mutually beneficial manner. Drum corps members see what Randy Moss cannot -- that under the uniform, we're all alike. Whether we wear green and gold, purple and white, or any combination of colors, we are all participants who have a passion for our activity. Drum corps members know the true meaning of class, because we not only "talk the talk" but also "walk the walk." True class stems not from one's lip service, but rather from one's actions. This is the philosophy that is taught to the members of the Phantom Regiment, and is most assuredly the same philosophy taught to members of all corps. But it is not just the personal actions that are important. The actions of any one person reflect back upon the organization as a whole. In the case of Randy Moss, his classless actions have had the effect of placing the Minnesota Vikings in a negative spotlight. Furthermore, the inability and/or unwillingness of his teammates to condemn his behavior reflect the lack of class that surrounds the game. In the drum corps world, if any member is known to have acted in a classless manner, it is the responsibility of the membership to bring this person back into line. Members are expected to police themselves, and prevent any such action from taking place. At the Phantom Regiment, we a have very strict uniform protocol. When in uniform, a member is not allowed to: Chew gum, eat, drink anything other than clear liquids, run, yell, swear, smoke, engage in public displays of affection, wear anything other than the uniform itself, or speak negatively about any other corps. There are other restrictions and expectations associated with the uniform, but essentially, when in uniform, a member is expected to conduct himself in a professional manner. Anyone who is caught violating uniform protocol is assigned a punishment fitting to the type and severity of the transgression. I believe that it would be prudent to place similar expectations upon other sports and activities. Competition can be a healthy motivator, when used properly. The objective of competition is not, nor should it be, to "beat" everyone else. Rather, one should view competition as a way to measure one's self up against other units in the same field. To win is not to "put down" others, but to simply be the best out there. It is in this attitude that competition and class intersect. Thankfully, drum corps provides a safe haven for those who seek to enjoy competition in a positive, respectful manner. It's no wonder that drum corps has historically been utilized, or at least had the effect of, changing young persons' lives for the better. Now we just need to get the word out about this great activity, so that even more people can live this experience. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native) with a political science degree, and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Learning and understanding the past The College degree Like spring training Finding a drum corps home The Last audition Turkey-induced tryptophan Rhapsody in the chat room Amazing grace Are you ready? Get out there and vote Reflections from Whitewater Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin