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Archive for the ‘Sports officials’ Category

I will grant you this: Collegiate football players have to learn a playbook and know what their responsibility is once the ball is snapped…offensively or defensively. They also have to be in excellent physical condition to get hit or to hit as many times as they do during a game. In addition, they must listen to and absorb the bullshit yelling of offensive, defensive, special teams, weight and conditioning coaches, plus the head coach throughout the week and during the game. They’ve got it tough, right?

There are some other athletes involved during the year and at the bowl games, should their team win a sufficient number of games to qualify. These athletes receive polite applause for their efforts…or not, depending on the quality of the crowd that might just be watching them. If these athletes make a mistake, it’s usually very obvious to everyone in the stands. A tackle might miss a block; a defensive back might blow a coverage; even a facemask violation might be missed by the average fan, but if one of these other athletes screws up, the whole damned stadium can see it.

By now you’ve probably guessed that I’m speaking of the members of the collegiate marching bands. No, they aren’t six-five, 305. They don’t run the 40 in 4.4. What they do is march…in step with Lord only knows how many other band members. They often must know intricate maneuvers to form outlines of this or that. In addition, they must play an instrument, whether it’s a set of snares, trombone, saxophone, xylophone, or cell phone (what?), they have to read the music, march in time, and not screw up…because if they do, they will get laughed out of the stadium, and probably get kicked out of the band.

I watched the University of Oregon marching band this morning at the Tournament of Roses Parade. They marched five miles. I can’t say how often they played, but I’m betting it was a hell of a lot. They then took a break, went off to march and entertain before the game with Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl, and then entertained the crowd with another performance at halftime.  No, they didn’t have to dodge blitzing linebackers, cover speedy receivers, or take out the drum major, but they worked their butts off, and for what? As I have said, a bit of meager applause when they finish. There was a time, years ago, when the announcers took a break at halftime and just let the bands do their thing. I guess ‘real football fans’ must not have liked that, so today we go ‘back to the studio’ for an update on what else is happening in pigskin world or for a local newscast. So long, band members; have fun with your music. We’ll come back when the ‘real action’ begins. You may not be an All-American as a band member, but you’re still learning the basics of teamwork, physical conditioning, plus you have a skill you can carry throughout life…without having to use a cane when you’re 40. Hey, Clinton still plays a mean sax!

Oh, and don’t forget those other athletes on the field. I call ‘em “the zebras.” Umpires, line judges, back judges, referees…these people are anywhere from 20 to 30 or more years older than the kids who are playing the game. Most of the time they can get out of the way, but if a smart receiver tries to use you as a pick of a defender….ooh, the pain. These men are in remarkable shape. Rarely, very rarely, do they receive the recognition they deserve. Do I want them to stop the game midway through and bow to both sides in expectation of applause or coins tossed to them? No, of course not; big bills maybe, but certainly not coins.

So, the next time you go to a football game or watch a collegiate game on television, see how much air time those athletes we call band members get. Watch the officials closely and see how they dodge and jump, run, and turn on a dime, all the while, watching for and catching ninety-nine point nine percent of the infractions that are taking place. See, and here you thought it was just 66 or more guys just knocking heads to see who could put the most points on the board. Where did I get 66? Well you have to figure an offense, a defense, and special teams. Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, that’s 33 men for each team; double it and there’s the number. Betcha never thought about that one either, didja?

Enjoy the game!

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