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Friday, June 15, 2012

Root Root Root for the Home Corps

What would this map look like for drum corps?
Drum corps season is upon us. In less than 24 hours, DCI fans will pack stadiums and root for the home team. That is, if the home team will be playing a show near them.

In the world of sports, the team you choose to support is as much about civic pride as anything else. While teams have nicknames like Red Sox, Devils, and Panthers, it's often the Boston, New Jersey, or Carolina part that resonates with fans, and while there are extraregional fans, one's rooting interest often boils down to where someone, or perhaps their family, hails from. In drum corps, geography falls much farther down the list. People tend to root for a corps because they're alumni, their friend/relative marches or marched there, or they're a fan of their repertoire or style of play. There's some geographic affinity, but not a ton. Why is that?

For starters, a corps may be headquartered in a particular location, but after camps, they spend all summer leaving. This is in sharp contrast to a sports team which will play half of its games at home. There's no picking up season tickets to the local drum corps. Some degree of regional affinity may exist from those marching in the corps, but all of the top corps draw from such a national base these days that that's all but moot. If you're lucky there'll be a home show or two that local fans can attend--as a Carolina Crown fan in North Carolina, they're at three shows here in NC, SC, and nearby VA--but not every corps gets that chance.

To what degree do corps and their home regions embrace one another? Just 6 of the 23 World Class corps bear the name of their city or geographic region in their corps name: Boston Crusaders, Carolina Crown, Jersey Surf, Madison Scouts, Santa Clara Vanguard, and Spirit of Atlanta. The Glassmen of Toledo allude to their Glass City roots, and the Cadets have included both Garfield and Bergen County in their name in the past, but that's it. Anyone less than fully invested couldn't tell you where Phantom Regiment or the Blue Devils are from.

Due to the smaller profile of drum corps as they relate to sports teams, it doesn't take a major metropolitan area to support a corps (when there is indeed municipal support). Rockford, Illinois does claim Phantom Regiment on their city sign, boasting of their most recent championship, but the city is a speck in comparison to some of the larger areas that host corps. To what degree do Charlotte, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, the Bay Area, Atlanta, or Northeast Ohio claim or even acknowledge the corps that are based in their environs? I took a look at which cities had DCI championships to go with their major sports championships, but again, to what degree do they claim these? I've seen Charlotte represent the Panthers, the Bobcats, even the Hounds of Major League Lacrosse and Minor League Baseball's Knights, but I must say, the Carolina Crown gear I see when I'm down there is lacking.

Having moved beyond neighborhood corps being commonplace, each corps enjoys more of a national following, but to what degree is this at the expense of a local fanbase? I can't answer that, but if you don't already have a corps you claim, try latching on to the home team.
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