Monday, May 14, 2012

Band' suspension no surprise, still a shock

No Florida A&M University Marching 100 until 2013.
At least.
Monday's announcement comes as no surprise, given the grim details that have emanated from the ongoing investigation into the marching band's hazing culture after the death of a drum major last year.
Yet it still has to be a shock to the band's legion of fans.
That includes yours truly.
I first saw the Marching 100 perform in Delray Beach in 1995 and loved it.
Then we went to Tampa last Septemberto watch them perform at the FAMU-USF game at Raymond James Stadium.
We didn't care about the game.
It was the band we wanted to see.
In fact, our seats were just a few rows behind where FAMU's band was sitting.
Not only did we get to enjoy one of their rollicking halftime shows, we were able to hear them play throughout the game.
Two months later, drum major Robert Champion died of injuries he allegedly suffered from hazing after FAMU's annual showdown with Bethune-Cookman at the Citrus Bowl.
Eleven band members face felony charges in that November hazing death.
The subsequent revelations about the physical punishment involved in the hazing rituals have been stunning and baffling.
What is the point?
I don't get it.
It's also been revealed more than 100 bandmembers weren't even enrolled at FAMU when the incident took place --- including three bandmembers charged in Champion's death.
It's right the Marching 100 program should be suspended until further notice.
A young man's life was taken.
The multipronged investigation into those circumstances, the band's finances, its infrastructure and the program's direction is vitally important if the marching band is to have a future.
This is a dire situation that must be straightened out.
It's not just a FAMU institution at stake.
It's an American institution.

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