Wednesday, March 3, 2021

2, 4, 6, 8: Not everyone gets to participate


Many bowl games make it a requirement for the marching band and cheerleading squads to attend. The trips to Texas, the Bahamas, and so on, are sometimes a favorite part of attending a school with a winning football program that gets invited to bowl games.

A college marching band in formation (Chris Clark/iStock)

But, as the Associated Press reports, some bowl games this winter won’t have bands performing at halftime. Some won’t have cheerleaders, either.

Among this year’s record 41 bowl games, two will be played on Christmas Eve, and they’re the only two that will be played outside the contiguous 48 states: the Hawaii Bowl and the Bahamas Bowl.

Neither Cincinnati nor San Diego State plans to take its band to the Hawaii Bowl, and neither Western Michigan nor Middle Tennessee State will bring its band to the Bahamas. Both schools plan to send a partial cheerleading squad to the Bahamas, however.

“We looked at maybe trying to bring a pep band and those kinds of things, but actually hotel rooms are really tight on the island,” the AP quoted Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro as saying.

In some cases, transporting the band to exotic destinations can prove to be a logistical or financial burden on the schools, but some bowl organizers reserve hotel rooms several years in advance, just to make sure they’re available for the marching band and cheer squads, considering that these groups contribute greatly to the college football game atmosphere.

“If we’re going to sign a contract three years out, they’re definitely required to come, because we’ve made a commitment to that hotel,” the news service quoted Lisa Fortenberry, pageantry director for the Cotton Bowl, as saying.

But it’s not always a downer.

Not everybody gets to go to the bowl game or travel to the Bahamas, Hawaii, or even Boise, but some student-musicians consider it a mixed blessing. Although traveling from Western Michigan to the Bahamas would have brought a much warmer holiday to the band members, some said they appreciated not having to redo their holiday plans and will enjoy staying with their families over the winter break.

College football is big, I guess, but some kids have different priorities.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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