School Bands Should Not Be Entertainment Adjunct For Sports | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

School Bands Should Not Be Entertainment Adjunct For Sports

Play associated audio

Several years ago I gave a speech in which I mentioned that athletes tended to be the only college students who were awarded scholarships for what is an extracurricular activity.

Afterward, Myles Brand, the late president of the NCAA, told me I was wrong, that many music extracurricular scholarships were awarded at colleges.

Brand and I seldom agreed on much of anything, but I've always found him to be a gentleman. So, I expressed surprise at this claim.

Oh, no, Brand said, many colleges award music scholarships to members of the band who march during halftime at football games. I resisted the urge to quote John McEnroe: You can't be serious. I only replied, politely, that it seemed to me that those students, however hardworking they may be at high-stepping, were not primarily getting aid for their musical education, but for being an entertainment adjunct to the football team. Brand shook his head at me; we disagreed once again.

It turns out, though, that because there is also an overemphasis on football down a step, at the high-school level, that may well affect secondary school music programs throughout the country.

Lisa Chismire, the parent of a student in the Unionville-Chadds Ford District in Pennsylvania, discovered that it was district policy — as it is elsewhere — to force serious music students to attend band camp in the summer and then march in the band at football games. If music students who had no interest in the marching band did not go along and assist the football program, the young musicians would not be allowed to play in the concert band, the symphonic band, the jazz band or the orchestra.

Chismire, who is a retired lawyer, was appalled. She called this "extortion" and "institutional bullying" — coercing students in one discipline to serve as spear carriers for those in another.

In response to her charges of discrimination, there were protests that if music students who didn't want to march in the band were excused, then those who did would be disappointed because the band would be smaller and make less of an impression at halftimes. Chismire was called "threatening, aggressive, unkind and disrespectful" by one school board member.

But she obviously had the law on her side and was able, ultimately, to cause reform of the program in the whole school district. But, although the numbers aren't known, policies of this sort do exist in school districts throughout the country.

We all know that athletes, in high school and college alike, are awarded special privileges, but somehow it seems even more unfair that students who pursue other extracurricular talents, should, anywhere in America, be placed in a subsidiary position to their classmates who happen to play sports.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
WAMU 88.5

Plan To Offer Free Community College Divides Along Party Lines

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama laid out a plan to offer two years of community college. But at least in Northern Virginia, support for the proposal seems split on partisan lines.

NPR

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Sling TV launches in a few weeks. That's the new streaming service from Dish that allows viewers to stream content previously only available through cable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.