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Friday, August 23, 2013

Smartening Up

If you asked me if I write a sports blog or a marching band blog, I'd probably answer, "yes". Truth is, though, this is more of a band nerd blog with a sports fan problem. That is, I approach marching/athletic music as an insider and sports as a fan.

I love football and know my way around it decently well, but I'll admit that I'm a novice when it comes to the Xs and Os. A lot of what I know comes from playing Madden and the NCAA Football series (poorly). I learned routes when working a sports summer camp during college. The rest? I learned from Chris B. Brown.

Chris B. Brown - the initial is increasingly important these days - is the proprietor at smartfootball.com and author of The Essential Smart Football. After having heard from him and about the book on a few podcasts I listen to, I checked out the website and soon bought the book. I had a grand plan last year that during the football season, I was going to read a chapter or so a week and in essence, put myself through a semester-long course on the finer points of football. Well, apparently my study ethic is as good as it ever was, because that never happened.

It was this summer, starved for the coming of football, that I picked it back up and gave it the attention it deserved. The book made concepts understandable for me and gave both real world examples and the historical context from which they sprang. Brown points out how philosophies migrate and change with coaches, and how offensive evolutions beget defensive evolutions and vice versa.

Through my often one-track lens, I wonder how some of the elements present in today's schemes and philosophies may impact or inform the marching band's work. Might a drumline excel in a timing based offense like the West Coast, setting tempo on huts instead of duts? Is the quick method of information delivery present in no-huddle offenses something that could be implemented by drum majors or section leaders? For that matter, how do bands have to adjust when the time between downs is minimized?

In an interview with Brown on the Solid Verbal podcast, he mentioned that one of the things that allows you to appreciate what's truly going on is to watch the game without watching the ball. There is so much more unfolding from both lines, the manner the offense reacts to what the defense shows or doesn't show, and the blocking assignments necessary to get the ball where it needs to go. I think of this as listening to more than just the melody, but the countermelodies, harmonies, and bassline that allow the melody to shine.

I'm still far from being a pro, but one thing's for sure, after reading The Essential Smart Football, I'll be watching a little smarter this season.
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