Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gimme an R-A-N-T! Whaddaya Got? RANT!!!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, brace yourselves, for I am filled with righteous indignation! That's right! This is a RANT!!

This is an article that I came across today on Facebook, and it is absolutely infuriating. The tl;dr version is this:

A high school marching band took the field for their halftime program. At the beginning of the first song, the coaches brought the teams back onto the field. Over seven minutes remained on the clock. When four minutes (and some change) still remained on the clock, the coaches began yelling at the band to get off the field. The parents in the stands started screaming, "Get the [expletive] band off the field". Then one of the coaches went so far as to begin shaking the junior Assistant Drum Major's podium, in an attempt to drive the band off.

It was still halftime.

On Senior Night.

The administration claimed that the team would have received a 15-yard penalty if the band had not vacated right then, but that's not entirely true. Halftime lasts for twenty minutes, and then an additional three minutes are allotted for warm-up. At the time this occurred, the original twenty minutes were not up. In addition, the
principal had already discussed the possibility of an overage (due to it being Senior Night) with the referees and opposing team, and it had been approved. The team would have received a penalty if they'd missed their additional three minutes, but not until that time. I feel it's also worth mentioning that this team had only won one game over the entire season. The band recently received a national award.

In a lovely little bit of irony, the penalty would have, officially, been for "unsportsmanlike conduct". 'Cause, you know, trying to knock a teenager off of a podium because they didn't finish their halftime show five minutes before halftime ended is sportsmanlike.

For what it's worth, the football players had nothing to do with this, and many expressed that they felt badly about the incident. This rant is in no way concerning the football team. This is about the administration, coaches, parents, their lack of respect, and the fact that this is not an isolated event.

As a former band member and the sister of a current high school band member (non-marching at the moment, but that's probably going to change soon), I know what these kids go through for their art--and it is an art. Have you see Ohio State?

When I was in my school's color guard (I can't play an instrument to save my life), we started off with a week at sleep-away flag camp. There, we twirled for, roughly, eight hours a day. The food was so horrible that we ended up living off the camp's peanut butter and jelly bar (yes, that's a thing), and were so weak and starved that our chaperones kidnapped us and took us to a buffet, where no one could eat without getting sick. Did I mention this took place during a hurricane, and we had refugees staying at the camp, too? We twirled in the hurricane. No kidding.

Next came band camp. Again, we twirled from about seven or eight in the morning until five or six at night. We did get lunch, but that was the only break. A time or two, we were able to go home for dinner, but had to come right back and stay until eight or ten at night. This lasted for several weeks, and was grueling. This was over the Summer, which stays in the mid-90s to low-100s with 100% humidity. Kids passed out. It also rains like crazy throughout the season (read: year), but we kept practicing in the mud. We were told to stop twirling if your pole turned blue and the hair on your arms raised, and then to throw the pole away from you, because you were getting struck by lightning. Until then, keep twirling. (note: I don't know the science behind that, but that's what we were told.)

Then, there's marching season. For us, that meant bus trips on buses that broke down or caught fire (seriously), then waiting for the school to convince the nice "Spirit Bus" that the football players, cheerleaders, and alumni rode on to turn around and come get us. This meant stale fast food when the players got steak dinners before each game. This meant riding all the way to Podunk, AL, just to have the opposing team tell us we couldn't play because it irritated their team. This meant having parents and coaches yell at us because they were losing, we existed, and they needed a scapegoat.

During all of this, and for months after, there are classes, private lessons, after-school rehearsals, during-school performances, competency tests, and, Lord Almighty, competitions. Those are a-whole-nother rant, in and of themselves.

The thing is, no matter how badly we were treated, or how uncomfortable we were, or how jangled our nerves, we kept playing. We kept doing our best because it made us proud. We were also very proud of our team, and wanted to support them. They were darn good, and a win for them was a win for us.

Now, I wasn't at this game. I didn't see this happen, but not only do I not doubt it, I'm not surprised by it. What makes it truly sickening is that the offense was perpetrated not only by the band's own school, but by adult authority figures and parents, all of whom should know better. These are the people who are supposed to be teaching these children--yes, children--how to behave in public, and how to treat other people. These are the same disciplinary figures who issue detentions at school and groundings at home. How in the [expletive] are these kids supposed to take them seriously now? More importantly, if we can't count on either school or parents to set good examples for today's kids, who can we count on?

I just...I have no idea.

***Editor's note: It has come to my attention that 15 yards can make or break a game, and that an unapproved half-time overage can result in fines. This is very true, and I felt it necessary to add. I still feel that the entire situation was handled very poorly by the school's administration, coaching staff, and parents. *** 

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