This week on DCI.org, we'll be examining the similarities and differences between drum corps and athletics. Nick Molino, who marched with Magic of Orlando in 2002 and 2003 on contra, is now a first-year engineering major at the University of Florida. Due to summer courses and an internship, he is not going to be able to march this summer. "This past fall semester, while taking ENC 1101, I was required to write a definition argument, stating why I believe something needed a stronger definition or needed a new definition. It seems like 90 percent of the essays I've written since my first summer in 2002 have been related to drum corps, and I figured this shouldn't be any different." By Nick Molino Imagine INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver on a calm crisp night. A roar can be heard for miles around, emitted by a crowd of over 35,000 fans. What could possibly be taking place? A football game? Broncos vs. Patriots? Nope, not even close. Think of 135 people, mostly of the ages 14 through 21, waking up at 7 a.m. All that lies ahead of them is a 16-hour day full of intense athletic training, mind-boggling mental tests, and hardly any breaks. Is this wrestling camp? No, try again. Now imagine over 70 teams traveling the country, competing five nights a week for a span of three months, just to reach that single goal of becoming a World Champion. Must be baseball, right? Absolutely not. This is drum corps, the ultimate sport. Many athletes of the four mainstream sports (football, baseball, basketball and hockey) would like to believe that drum corps is not a sport. And, unfortunately, the general public does not know enough about drum corps to even consider it a sport. Drum corps, as defined by the Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary, is "A musical ensemble consisting of musicians playing a variety of drums and bugles ... drum and bugle corps frequently compete in regional and national contests and exhibit the highest order of marching entertainment available." However, sport status cannot be seen through this definition. Fortunately, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) definition of sports coincides directly with the characteristics of drum corps. The first definition of sport set by the OED states that a sport is a form of pastime carried on in the open air and involving some amount of bodily exercise. Drum corps meets the first and second criteria of this definition due to the fact that it originated after WWI, and has always rehearsed and performed on outdoor football fields. But how does it meet the third criteria of bodily exercise? Most drum corps adversaries mistake the activity for one that doesn't require any athleticism because it involves music. They are sadly mistaken. Due to an intense rehearsal schedule and the difficulty level of a drum corps' repertoire, drum corps members must maintain the speed and strength of a running back, the endurance of a cross-country runner, the flexibility of a dancer, and the mentality of a golfer. In addition, drum corps train for months on end, day and night, which is completely different from a high school or college marching band which practices at most five days a week with only a few hours of rehearsal a day. The next OED definition of sport states that a sport involves a series of athletic contests held at one time to form a spectacle or social event. Drum corps from across the country travel the highways of America for three months straight, competing in a different venue five nights a week. All units finally come together during finals week, which is the second week in August, for the largest competition of the summer. Here, one single corps will be named the World Champion. The crowd each night of finals week reaches a capacity of 30,000 or more which proves the fact that drum corps forms an immense social event. The third OED definition describes a sport as a theatrical performance or show expressed or represented through music or poetry. Drum corps performances are an attempt to display a theatrical spectacle through the athleticism of marching and the musicality of great musicians. Drum corps is actually one of the only sports that can fulfill the criteria of this OED definition. In general, all of these definitions combined form a foundation which drum corps can lie upon. Without this foundation drum corps dies. It loses respect, popularity, and promotion. Most people affiliate band nerds and outcasts with drum corps. However, drum corps is really an activity containing great athletes who perform their theatrical themes on the stage of a football field with the single goal of becoming a World Champion. Drum corps may even be the ultimate sport and definitely deserves the respect that any other sport maintains.
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