Karle's Korner: From a former band geek, C'mon LSU, Get With It!

Karle's Korner: From a former band geek, C'mon LSU, Get With It!
Marching Southerners. ©JSU/Steve Latham

JACKSONVILLE, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:

It looks as if the LSU people may do the right thing after all.  Since last fall, the fine folks in Baton Rouge have prohibited entire marching bands from opposing teams to enter Tiger Stadium and play a halftime show (they say the sidelines are too cramped to fit entire marching bands on each side of the field). But after receiving all sorts of criticism since the story went viral a week or so ago, school officials are now assessing a way to lift the policy.

So why is a TV sports anchor wound up about this? What's the big deal? Who cares if Alabama or Jacksonville State have only their smaller pep bands at LSU this fall?

I was in third grade when I picked up my first pair of drum sticks. I pounded on everything: My mom's pots and pans, my window sill (which would soon a have huge divot as I drummed the wood daily), and when I was upset with my little sister Betsy, well, her (but only on occasion). I played drums through my senior year in college and then hit the rock band circuit in my early 20's before I realized that I needed a real job.

Growing up I played in concert bands, symphonic bands, jazz bands, percussion ensembles, drum & bugle corps and yes, marching bands. And ya know something? I had the time of my life. These days I dabble in drums a bit, but having a demanding job, a wife and a couple of kids has for the most part resulted in my Tama drums and Zildjian cymbals being broken down and collecting dust in my attic.

While I've been in sports broadcasting for 36 years (hey, it happens to average high school athletes), I am also keenly aware of how hard these marching band "geeks" work. The kids arrive at their college campus in August, work through choreography drills, music memorization and more each and every day through the entire football season. They walk from the music building to the practice field to the football stadium carrying a bass drum or a sousaphone on their backs, and they spend Saturdays dressed in those way-too-hot and nerdy band uniforms. And at the end of the day? They chill, knowing they helped make the atmosphere on game day rock.

And if you are still under the belief that these band nerds don't have it going on? I always remind my son, a good-looking college-to-be athlete that he should be nice to those nerds because within a few years he may be working for one of them. Yes, music is a powerful thing, so powerful that some the sports world's most famous athletes played instruments while growing up:

  • Vince Carter (Sax)
  • David Robinson (Sax)
  • Ted Bruschi     (Sax)
  • Eric Lindross    (Trumpet)
  • Tony Stewart    (Trombone)
  • Eddie George    (Drums)
  • Walter Payton    (Drums)
  • Mike Piazza       (Drums)

They have all done well, don't you think? And some other celebrities who can call themselves former band geeks?  How about Halle Berry, James Woods, Neil Armstrong, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Spielberg, Tom Selleck, Richard Gere, Samuel L. Jackson, Dana Carvey, and Lil' Wayne? I think they've succeeded in life.

Now back to LSU: When I heard that the folks there have been barring entire marching bands from Death Valley due to safety issues, I was hoping there could be some sort of a solution. Well, there soon could be. According to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, Eddie Nunez, the deputy director of athletics, says that school officials will soon meet to devise a safer plan for the cramped sideline, thus allowing the school to lift the ban. That would enable full marching bands to play at LSU this fall.

Translation? That means rather than say, Alabama sending only a small pep band to perform in the stands, the entire Million Dollar Band would travel to LSU this fall. The Jacksonville State folks might now take their entire band to LSU for the game on September 10th. Full bands with two bands performing at halftime, just the way it should be.

When I go to cover a college football game I'm concerned with what the football players are doing. That's my job, and I make sure I don't miss a beat (sorry, that was lame). But at halftime of each game, while the other media types are gorging on hot dogs draped in slaw (just 90 minutes after they tore apart the buffet at the pre-game meal), I'm sitting in the press box checking out the drum line.

Go ahead and call me a "nerd", a "band geek", whatever, but you have to admit that college football and marching bands are what help make fall Saturdays so special.  Let's hope the LSU people do the right thing so those special Saturdays can continue.

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