The Worst Part of Ivy League Football Games

Princeton University's band performs at Lehigh in 2009.

Princeton University's band performs at Lehigh in 2009.

Earlier this fall, a Dartmouth College baseball player acting as an usher at one of his school’s home football games sent out the following Twitter message: “Our band makes me uncomfortable”.

He’s not the only one. I also wince when the Dartmouth College Marching Band shows up at Memorial Field, and it has nothing to do with the music. In fact, I think the group does a nice job of mixing institutional standards with pop songs and the sound adds to the ambience of a football Saturday.

No, what causes me to grind my molars are the inane announcements that accompany the band’s “marching”, which is really a bunch of running around aimlessly before assuming a basic formation. This is in the tradition of Ivy League “scramble bands”, as opposed to the more regimented and uniformly-attired musical groups you more often see throughout Division I college football. Alone among the Ancient Eight is Cornell, which has what most fans would describe as a true marching band.

Frankly, I could care less if Ivy League scramble bands attempt to form the outline of a keg, a bear or Lady Gaga in the nude. They all tend to look the same, anyways. But must there be a student spokesman blathering sophomoric, inside jokes over the public-address system by way of introduction?

The bands try to insult each other and offend opposing alumni without going over an edge loosely defined by administrators. Scripts for this idiocy are supposedly previewed by the home school, but I sometimes wonder if that’s really happened.

Last Saturday, a member of the Princeton band spent three or four minutes literally shouting into the press box microphone, oblivious to the reporters, photographers, statisticians and others trying to work nearby. When the regular announcer was allowed to reclaim the mic, he had to wipe spittle off its surface.

If the scripts were even mildly amusing and could be delivered at a volume lower than a bellow, they might be tolerable. The bands certainly add to the halftime experience - but with music, not commentary.


Letter: Marching to Our Own Drummer

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To the Editor: I am a Columbia University undergraduate and a member of its marching band. I am writing in response to Valley News staff writer Tris Wyke’s Nov. 25 blog post, “The Worst Part of Ivy League Football Games,” which described Ivy League scramble bands as groups of people running around aimlessly while a student spokesperson yells idiotic, inside …