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Friday, August 10, 2012

All of the Summer Games

I can't help but notice that we're at that point every four years when both the Olympics' Summer Games and Drum Corps International's Summer Music Games are drawing to a close.
New look to the Olympic Rings
No, I'm not here to advocate for drum corps in the Olympics. I've got a few issues with that, not the least of which is the sheer logistical nightmare of each competing nation's traveling party increasing by 150 or more. And while I believe members of the top flight marching units are athletes, I have never been of the belief that marching band or drum corps are sports.

That said, there are plenty of parallels that one can't help but notice when paying attention to both activities. After all, both include competition amongst some of the best of their respective craft. And while this isn't the case for all of the Olympics, sports like gymnastics (and in the winter, ice skating) involve one of the pieces that often drives the sport-or-not debate: Judges. The thing is, the Olympics reveal their scores in a manner that keeps up with the speed of the action and more importantly, works at the speed of television: Right after each routine. We the viewing audience have made a snap judgment at how we felt a routine performed, and we get near-instant feedback about how the experts felt about it and where it stacks up against the routines we've seen thus far.

Why is this absent from DCI? I know that score tallying takes a bit of time, but then, so do corps changeovers. In this era of technology, there's no reason field judges can't be recording into iPods, press box judges can't be tabulating on iPads, and all of the information, including scores and commentary can't be sent and tabulated by the time the applause is over to be announced immediately? It would tighten up shows and provide timely feedback to the audience.

But what of the climactic end of the show, where all the drum majors wait patiently for scores to be read in reverse order? Let's be honest, no one is sticking around exactly for the pomp and circumstance of that particular mechanism, simply what it brings about--the results (and hopefully, a corps encore). With tallied scores in hand, DCI could instead use that time for a full corps retreat and medal ceremony at each show. The potential exists for bringing back mass corps performances or even other features to enhance the show, a la Tour of Champions.

While the largest shows and championship weekend may feature scores before all corps have finished performing, it is still not with the immediacy of scores after every corps. Give us that, tighten up the shows, and give a little much needed pageantry back into the pageantry. 
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