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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown

Drum corps is the only competitive activity that comes to mind where the competitors regularly de-emphasize the fact that winning is the object of the game. Ask any DCI director, and they'll tell you they know the season is a success if the kids have learned something, had a great time, and they felt this show really connected with the audience. It's both refreshing and a little annoying; on the one hand, it is great that they've got education at the forefront and that there's no undue pressure on the participants, especially since there are quite a few corps which, realistically speaking, have slim to no shot at even medaling, let alone winning it all. On the other hand, it almost gives the impression that there's little drive to strive for the top, to win it all, and defeat any corps standing in their way.

And yet, in this atmosphere, Carolina Crown came out subliminally swinging. As last year's second-place corps, Crown made it clear they were coming from the #1 spot, naming their show "A Second Chance". Furthering their cerebral smack talk, they switched their horns from silver to gold. So while the platitudes were likely the same from Crown staff when asked about winning, their actions spoke quite loudly.

Crown came out of the gates this year smoking, sweeping the eastern shows for a good amount of the season. I was pleased to see it; Crown is one of my two favorite corps (Santa Clara Vanguard being the other, who are unlikely to be supplanted until someone fields a cymbal line half as exciting) and I'd love to see them win gold. But now that the season wears on, they seem to be slipping a bit, managing only 4th place at the Masters of the Summer Music Games and repeating that tonight in Atlanta. So while the seasons not yet over, it seems that they may be headed down the route so many corps have taken: Start strong with not enough room to grow so that other corps surpass you.

So, then, are they foolish for the statements they made (or didn't make) about going for the gold? Hardly. I'm happy they dared, regardless of the outcome. It livens things up a bit. I'd love to see some more corps throw some 'bows, explicit or implicit. Last year's champion Blue Devils quite possibly did (1930 won them their 13th championship; 1+9+3+0=13) and this will be far from the last, I'm sure. So let Crown talk...

...besides, regardless of how they end up, they will have done exactly as planned, so long as the kids all learn something and have a good time, and they connect with the audience.
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