I often hear about high school students who work long and hard on talking their parents into letting them march drum corps. It makes sense. After all, a lot of parents aren't always willing to give up that precious commodity they've spent years raising and nurturing just yet, even if it's for just the summer. Besides, who's going to cut the grass? But as parents start coming around their child's corps, more often then not, they can't help but get hooked. And it's easy to see why. While most parents spend their kids formative years dragging them from baseball to hockey to soccer, the competitive nature of children's sports can get a little tiring after a while. In most cases, this has nothing to do with the kids themselves. Instead, it's the parents who haven't quite figured out how to behave while watching their children play. Maybe drum corps parents find comfort in each other because they're usually not the type to go up to the coach after the game, bemoaning the fact that Jimmy Thompson played four innings while their precious Johnny, "who's a much better hitter than Jimmy," only played three. Imagine Mrs. Thompson going up to a brass caption head after the first show of the season. Mrs. Thompson: "I don't know why that Stewart kid gets the baritone solo. My Jimmy is twice the player that kid is. That should be his solo." Brass caption head: "Uhhh ..." A lot of the chemically unbalanced parents act like their children because they get so caught up in the moment. If you attend enough games, you see it quite often. Let's consider a basketball scenario: Johnny's got the ball, he's moving toward the basket, a kid from the other team defends him, Johnny goes up for the shot and he misses badly, the ball clanking off the front of the rim. This is where your average glory-days-gone-by father -- you know, the "I once scored 23 points against Mount Louis Academy, so I know a thing or two about basketball, pal!" guy -- yells at the ref and threatens to bruise the opposing team's coach. It's the passion of getting caught up in the moment that causes most moms and dads to lose it. I know this. I've been right on the brink of it a few times, until I see the guy two rows down beat me to a ridiculous outburst aimed at the well-intended action of a 9-year-old, and decide to pull back, knowing I do enough in my life to look like a fool already. Besides, I'm not big on sleeping on the couch. Perhaps drum corps moms and dads are able to avoid some of the usual psycho-parent trappings because of the fact that each corps takes the field separately, which allows us to treat each corps as its own entity. There's no other team on the field, unlike little league baseball or other kids' sports. We're not able to build up one kid while cutting down another. This parental phenomenon seems to happen around a child's 9th or 10th birthday, when park district baseball comments switch gears a bit, going from confidence builders like, "Come on, Johnny, try to hit the ball. You can do it" to comments a bit less positive, like, "Johnny, you're gonna let this puss-arm pitcher strike you out? This kid can't even get the ball over the plate!" At some point, the yells escalate. "This kid struck you out last time. You gonna let him humiliate you again?!?!" When's the last time you heard a corps mom screaming, "Larry, you're not coming home unless that trumpet soloist is bleeding from the lip!" OK, when's the last time you heard it somewhere other than New Jersey? A drum corps success doesn't depend on its real-time physical dominance over another corps. Maybe that's why some parents seem to fall in love with the activity when they've been apprehensive about other sports or hobbies. Sure, fans -- parents among them -- get mad at drum corps judges when things don't go their way, but hopefully it's never as intense as some of the brow-beatings some little league umps and park district referees take from parents. I've witnessed dads who storm the basketball court when a foul doesn't go their son's way. It's never pretty. I can just imagine my own mother some 20 years ago, getting all worked up over a bad score in brass when I marched, shaking her fist at Don Hill in the parking lot after a show, cursing at him in Italian. Of course, that would never happen. She actually saved her rage for Gary Czapinski. Marco Buscaglia marched in the Cavaliers organization from 1978-1989. When he's not coaching first base for his daughter's softball team, he works for Tribune Media Services in Chicago. E-mail him at marcobuscaglia@hotmail.com. 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