Step. Spin. Toss. Catch. Step again. Toss. Catch. Step again. The halftime lights set the stage for members of the MVHS Marching Band and Color Guard, as they perform their show for the spectators during football games. The routines require pristine precision — while Marching band plays music, Color Guard dances and spins their flags, rifles and sabres to create their story. Yet despite the effort
exerted during their performances, Band and Guard rarely get recognition as a sport.
Marching Band tenor saxophonist and sophomore Patrick Nguyen attributes the lack of acceptance to what spectators don’t see. Band and Guard run extensive practices which focus on multiple aspects like technique and — on occasion, they practice for six hours in a row.
“When you look at it, it’s just a bunch of people walking around on a field playing music,” Nguyen said. “[But] if you participate in the activity, you recognize the amount of effort that these people put in to produce the show that you see. And you realize that it is something that requires effort and requires you to focus and put in work to actually get to a point where you feel presentable.”
Besides playing at halftime, Band and Guard both have their own respective competition seasons. Guard splits from Band, forming Winter Guard. For Marching Band, Nguyen often comes to school at 6:30 a.m. to the football field, conditioning and preparing for competition season. He says his work builds the discipline necessary to march in formation with the rest of the band.
“Visibly, you can’t see that sacrifice like swimming or track or football,” Nguyen said. “You see the physical aspect of that sport. With band, people don’t see [what we do] as a struggle or physical sacrifice. And while we’re on the field, our show’s great and all, but people don’t see us as being super tired under our uniform and everything.”
With Band and Guard both being new additions to the MVHS sports lineup, Nguyen believes an increase in awareness of Marching Band could he
lp people recognize them as a sport. In hopes to raise more awareness, Guard hosts workshops at the end of the school year to let students experience the sport, something lead instructor Grantís Peranda hopes increases people’s knowledge.
“We usually make [workshops] very open because there’s very few people that ... do Color when they’re really small,” Peranda said. “Some people do it in middle school; most start in high school. Everybody is really new.”
According to senior and captain Harshita Rao, Guard jumped from 12 members during its onset in 2016 to 33 members now. Color Guard is still gaining in popularity and Rao says the promotion work they originally did was a way to increase exposure, something which has worked.
“Our coach really tried hard to put us in rallies so that more people [would] find out what Color Guard was,” Rao said. “No one really knew who we were. And now way more people on this campus know what color guard is. For homecoming, almost every grade asked someone in color guard to spin in the back or do a toss or something cool. People
actually think our sport is cool, which I think is really amazing.”
The other predator to recognition of MVHS Band and Guard is funding. According to Peranda, the California government cut funding for the arts during the 2008 recession. Color Guard, a sport of the arts, fit in that category.
“There used to be a lot more funding for performing arts [in California],” Peranda said. “You’ll go to the East Coast and they’ll have kids that are in color guard when they’re in elementary school. It is a big thing – that’s the norm. More engagement [and] more funding from outside people or the state would help us out.”
Marching Band needs the physicality of playing an instrument while moving with proper timing and Color Guard does dance routines while spinning flags, rifles and sabres simultaneously. For art-related sports, it leaves a gray area. Rao finds that her sport can be more physically demanding.
“I am willing to debate about the fact that Color Guard gives more physical activity than some other sports,” Rao said. “We are not just moving our bodies, we also spin equipment. That’s really hard to do. It’s like dance, but with more.”
Rao sees anything with physical activity as a sport, Peranda thinks it’s any athletic activity that requires competition and Nguyen goes even further, stating that a sport is a performance that requires a considerable amount of physical and mental effort.
Nguyen feels strongly that both Band and Guard are undoubtedly sports. To him, a big part of sports are the sacrifices that make them what they are.
“[Getting] out of the pool barely able to stand, that is something people see [as] struggle and sacrifice, and they recognize that as a sport,” Nguyen said. “If you se
e the difficulty of the music that [we’re] playing, and the difficulty of the show [we’re] producing, you recognize the amount of work that they have to put in. People don’t really see the physical part.”