Students, education and experience the basis of all USSBA events

USSBA Indoor Editorial

With the introduction of the US Scholastic Band Association Indoor season added into to our successful fall season, many times the question arises, “Why should we participate in the USSBA?”  “What makes the USSBA so different from other avenues of competition that are available?” 

Beyond some of the obvious, such as high quality adjudication, performance opportunities in grand venues and nearly 24/7 service from our office team, it comes down to the basic core philosophy of who we are and why we do what we do. 

At the mid-point of the Indoor season and the kick-off of the registration process for the coming fall, now is a great opportunity for us to provide some background on the USSBA from the perspective of George Hopkins, one of the founding fathers of the USSBA and currently the CEO of YEA!, parent organization of the USSBA:

The intention of USSBA Indoor in the winter and USSBA outdoor in the fall is to support educators in providing a great experience for their students in the marching and music/pageantry arts.  The intention is not to decide the champion of a sporting event.  That outcome or judgment has always been secondary, to our reason for being. 

When considering the distinction between organizational philosophies, we can start by taking a look at the rules for an event.  Rules that penalize folks for taking too much time or for crossing a sideline are rules created for competition, not for education and with students in mind. 

Furthermore, adjudication systems that attack mistakes and breakdowns in the creative process are rules created for sports commentary, not for a venue that assists young people in developing skills. 

The USSBA has developed a three tier system of judging Indoor based on the level of skills and development of a program.  We ask ourselves,

  • “Is someone with an AA Guard expecting the same skills to be taught as someone at a World Level?”
  • “Is the reason the guard has an indoor program so that they can be the best in the world, or the best in the state?” Or finally…
  • “Is the reason the program embraced by the school because life skills are being taught?” 

 The answer to these questions is what motivates our philosophical direction. 

Teamwork, cooperation, work ethic, persistence, good sportsmanship – these are the aspects by which the programs that participate in the USSBA can and should be measured. 

What of other skills such as coordination, grace, agility, showmanship? These may never be able to be judged? 

Our thinking is that despite the fact that we create competitive events, and despite the fact that our nation’s culture promotes winning, there is much we can do to lessen the effect of this so-called combat. This is one reason why the USSBA need not have penalties.  We must never act as if units, teachers and students should be grateful to be a part of our program, and we can judge, while, never, ever being judgmental. 

And, we can do our work with the clear understanding that it is a privilege to serve students and directors in this unique world of ours. 

Editorial Corner features commentary on US Scholastic Band Association-related topics by George Hopkins, CEO of Youth Education in the Arts, and Sean King, Director of the USSBA. 


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