Thank God for Football

What would American wind band playing be like without high school and college football? Bands and football go together like majorettes and sparkly bathing suits. Because of this cultural link which goes back to the beginning of the sport (bands are much older), wind bands have found favor in schools and towns that otherwise would not support them.

Where football programs are cherished, band programs find funding. In the book “Friday Night Lights” the Permian High School English department decries the money that the band receives because of football. I suppose the English department saw music as frivolous, or at the least, not as important as reading and writing. It is hard to see band funding as a bad thing from the point of view of music education whatever the source. In addition, because of strong bands, schools can add more music: choirs and sometimes orchestras.

Without this cultural link between wind bands and football what would happen to large-ensemble music making in schools? I think one need to look no further than any large American city. Band programs, and even cheaper choirs, are struggling without a reason to survive. Why get together and make music for no other reason than making music? This is a difficult thing to justify to a cash-strapped school board or city council.

With football, you need band. Without football, you don’t. Thank God for football.

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