August 11, 2009

EWU cuts marching band

Eastern Washington University will save $30,000 by cutting it's marching band.


I'm sure some music department people will complain a little bit and some boosters will lament about the "lack of atmosphere" by not having a marching band but I think for the most part - not a whole lot of people are going to turn their heads.

It's not knock against the EWU Music Department, they did a fine job putting on their productions but the average football fan nowadays doesn't give a rats behind about a marching band or the cheerleading squad. Maybe it's just the short attention span that affects our generation right now, but things that have been traditional so long just really don't fly anymore.

Having talked to several music majors at EWU, they really don't like being in the marching band. It's somewhat fun but I'm sure they'd rather be doing something else on a Saturday. I'm sure some of the members enjoy the experience but it's still a lot of work and time. They probably won't be up in arms about it.

And to save $30,000? In these times you've just got to make cuts and frankly there are more people that care about the product on the field than the halftime entertainment. I'm not saying music is less important, but I don't think cutting the marching band will cause the casual football fan to go nuts.

Sometimes I've heard people question why we have cheerleading and bands at sporting events anymore. We keep doing it because it's traditional and we keep finding people that want to do it, but generally it seems that fans aren't very enthused by either. I feel sorry for the cheerleaders out at EWU sometimes because the crowd sometimes just refused to aknowledge them.

Why? It's got to be generational. In our grandparents and parents age, the game was the big event of the week with plenty of pageantry and people really got behind the whole school spirit thing. Nowadays, there's so many distractions, so many sports, so much going on that these side items just kind of get caught up at static.

And now throw in that the economy is in tank, these sort of things just get thrown in the tank. It's a shame, but on the other hand these things don't seem to be a very high priority.


  1. The average EWU student/fan doesn't care. EWU is a second-tier state school, with a large commuter population, and very little tradition. I'm sure you would have difficulty finding a student who knows the tune to the fight song much less the words. Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, and even WSU don't have that problem. One could argue the on-campus students go to football games because, in Cheney, there's not much else to do. At most univerities going to the game is IS the thing to do. I don't think that the problem is with the current generation - the problem is with Eastern's size and tradition.

  2. The Athletic Department spent about 30,000 over two years to make sure a member of the golf team could have room/board, tuition, and the like. That golfer responded by hardly ever practicing, and being 50 over par at the Big Sky Championships, breaking the conference record pretty handily in the process. Glad we're spending our money wisely at EWU. People want to say that marching bands don't sell tickets - well quite frankly, neither does EWU. Nor will they.

  3. Admitting my bias as a (retired) marching band freak, I think they will notice the absence and regret the decision. As the previous commenter noted, $30,000 a year is a cheap way (dirt cheap!) to organize a core fan base and boost school spirit.

    I would offer as an example an incident from my high school days, where before the game a player carelessly knocked down one of the flag team as they ran to the stadium, injuring her (lightly). As a result our director forbid us from any cheering for the first half. The fans noticed immediately. The coach came to apologize at halftime. A large group of enthusiastic kids acting in unison make a big difference.

    On the other hand, the former band director was getting paid squat. EWU apparently does not appreciate what they had.