In Defense Of The Stanford Band

This is a response to Alyssa Nakamoto’s article, Battle of the Bands: Stanford Just Doesn’t Compare to USC.

As a life-long UCLA fan, I have been subjected to the noise that is the USC marching band far more times than anyone my age should have to endure. I’ve attended eight UCLA-USC football games, and no matter the score of the game, the low-light of the experience was always the Trojan band, playing those same two songs while its members wore those silly toilet brushes on their heads. I make no attempt to hide my bias, though I come from a somewhat impartial position on this subject since UCLA and Stanford aren’t exactly friendly with each other either.

USC has an incredible football tradition, even I’ll admit that. But for a school that has won 11 national championships (including 1 that was vacated in 2004), it seems like the band is oblivious to this history when a 3-yard gain is deemed worthy of another blaring of the fight song.

Sure, it plays at a lot of cool events and television shows, but that’s easy to do being one of only two schools in the LA-area with a major marching band – not to mention USC is a private school with deep pockets for traveling long distances.

The halftime show this weekend was a bland selection of two top-40 hits you can hear on the radio every ten minutes. I’m just glad there were some new songs.

Stanford has a different style when it comes to halftime entertainment.

I’ve also enjoyed my fair share of performances by the infamous Stanford band. I always looked forward to these performances because of Stanford’s creative and unorthodox style. These are some of the brightest students in the country, and they have a sense of humor! We should commend the band members for being well-rounded human beings instead of scolding them for being offensive.

Stanford’s band is not without controversy. Many schools have banned it from performing at their games and the satirical humor is often unappreciated by older college football fans. But what I think is great is that the students don’t take themselves too seriously. Schools like Ohio State put great pride in their band programs and it is considered a tremendous honor to take part. Stanford decided to go a different direction, and I applaud the Cardinal for that.

The band does not march, nor does it claim to be a “marching band.” It doesn’t seek out gigs on TV shows, concerts, or special events. It’s simply a group of college kids playing instruments, and having a great time doing it. There is no marching band manual that states that a band has to have nice uniforms or put on shows that don’t offend people.

Complaining about the Stanford band being rude is like suing McDonald’s for causing obesity. You shouldn’t order a Big Mac and expect a nutritious meal, and you shouldn’t invite the Stanford band to perform at halftime and expect a gospel choir. And let’s be honest, when your mascot is a dude in a skirt and the Girls Gone Wild founder is one of your notable alums, mockery should not come as a shock.


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Ohio State senior, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Previously interned for OSU Men's Volleyball and UCLA Recruiting. Follow me on Twitter: @prettyrickyLA