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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Heel Turn

I don't mean for this to be a individual attack, but at the same time, he put himself out there knowing what may come of it.

An article posted yesterday in the Duke Chronicle written by a student who attends UNC and plays in the pep band, yet is a lifelong Duke fan. His mother was an equipment manager for the Blue Devils, but he chose academics over athletics and UNC had his major while Duke didn't. He now sits in the belly of the beast, blowing his horn (or beating the drums, it didn't specify his instrument) in support of the team he hates the most.

I simply can't understand. As you probably know, my band experience is inextricably tied to my experience as a sports fan. As a band member, I wasn't simply playing my drums at another gig. I was actively involved in rooting my team on to victory. I can understand and appreciate going to the school that's going to set you up for the best future, and if your dream school doesn't have your major or is subpar in it, it's a choice you've got to make. I don't know that I'd go to an archrival, but that's just me. Still, once you find yourself there, why would you put yourself in the position of having to at least put on the public appearance of supporting a team you despise more than a dozen times a year? Unless the major he is attending UNC for is theatre, or this is a grand sociological experiment, I just don't get it. If the desire is to play, join a non-athletics based ensemble. Start a band with some friends. Play in the community. Hell, even if athletic band is you passion - I can't blame you if it is - you could do marching band but not pep band, if your allegiance truly lies on the basketball side of things.

The UNC pep band's near sole purpose is to support the basketball team. While it is a musical ensemble, in that sense they are functionally no different than other spirit groups. If the shoe were on the other foot, do you envision aUNC fan attending Duke to run out and become a Cameron Crazy? Of course not, because at its very root it means supporting that which you purport to despise. Unless your endgame is espionage or sabotage, it makes no sense, and by outing himself, it would seem clear that this student's goal is not that.

There's a bit more that I speak as a pep band alumnus and one who still considers himself a part of the athletic music community. There is a belief, sometimes accurate, that band members do not care about the sport they support. I know at least in the case of Baltimore's Marching Ravens, they've been accused by detractors of getting premium seats for free that "real fans" could be sitting in. This of course discounts the fact that oftentimes, the band members are among the most loyal supporters. That this band member could sit in the stands and not only not give a damn about his team, but in fact be silently rooting against them, helps feed this belief. Hopefully the others in the Carolina pep band are showing how much they care.
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