OPINION: Bring on the marching bands


Dylan Reynolds headshot

Dylan Reynolds

If the NFL wants to avoid controversy, which seems to be their preference 99 percent of the time, they are approaching the Super Bowl halftime show entirely wrong. Instead of having a “safe” pop band like Maroon 5 perform — whose music sounds like it’s been through a dishwasher — they should consider putting on a show that actually has something to do with football.

The Super Bowl halftime show should be a marching band.

Ask anyone in America what kind of music they associate with football, and if their answer isn’t Hank Williams Jr., it’s probably marching band music. Marching bands have gone hand-in-hand with football for a century, and they bring back memories of chilly Friday nights in October and the sounds of high school crowds going wild for kickoff return touchdowns and missed extra points.

As a former member of a high school marching band, I can attest to the unifying power of the band. The entire high school power structure dissolved before our eyes when someone scored a big touchdown and the entire football team bounded over to the bandshell to celebrate. The “jocks vs. nerds” dichotomy just vanished.

Everyone loves the marching band. It’s kind of just a fact. And with the proper budget and enough musicians, a marching band halftime show would be every bit as theatrical as the pop concerts the NFL puts on now. Today’s band directors can use technology to create exciting drill and elaborate formations. With enough planning, as Ohio State’s band demonstrates every time they take the field, the show can be a real spectacle.

Of course, it is up for debate whether the NFL will be able to fully avoid controversy, especially after Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem kneeling mired them in controversy despite their attempts to make it go away. I personally think it is wrong, both morally and from a business perspective, for the league to insist on remaining apolitical after Kaepernick ignited a nationwide political debate and tightened the connection between athletic stardom and social activism.

But regardless of personal opinion on Kaepernick, it does not seem likely the NFL will start embracing controversy anytime soon. And if they’re going to be as non-controversial as possible, they’d be better off embracing a longtime football tradition than having a string of sanitary pop acts take the stage every year.

Dylan Reynolds is the engagement editor. Contact him at [email protected]