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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mighty Unsound Policy

There has been a bit of controversy brewing this week about the fact that in the matchup between the University of Maryland-College Park and West Virginia in Baltimore, the Pride of West Virginia will not be performing on the field. The issue is this: The Terps have a standing policy that at home games, the visiting band does not do halftime. While it is off-site in Baltimore, this is still a home game for the Terps, and they still make the rules.

Let me first say that from a band nerd perspective, I find this disappointing, but at face value, it's no big deal. There are plenty of reasons, and a variety of circumstances, that may prevent the visiting band from performing. Miami has stuck both Florida and Florida State in front row seats for the flyover on their last visits to south Florida. Other halftime priorities like Homecoming, donor recognition, or even Dr. Pepper pass for tuition type deals carve time out of an already finite halftime, potentially eliminating potential for a visiting band. So I'm not disappointed that West Virginia isn't getting to perform, but I find the blanket policy troubling.

When College Park announced the move to the Big Ten, I thought it was a bad cultural fit in many ways, but one of the primary mismatches was the band. I was - and still am - of the opinion that in a conference where 10 of the 12 current members hold Sudler Trophies, adding the Mighty Sound of Maryland and the Marching Scarlet Knights dilutes that tradition. This policy also flies in the face of what is - with little exception - a tradition of mutual respect among the bands in the conference. I don't know exactly how or why the policy came into being, but they certainly won't be making many new friends among their new conferencemates if it continues into the coming year.
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