I’ve never been a big fan of the Princeton band, nor any of the other so-called “scramble bands” around the country. I do believe I get their fundamental inherent joke, though, which is to utilize and stretch the tradition (read: license) of the halftime show as an opportunity to mock the opposing students and institution, mock the fans on both sides if they take the game of football too seriously, and even for the band members to mock themselves.
Scramble bands are at their least no longer freshly provocative as when they were founded as reactions to the constrained and often hypocritical society, institutions, politics, and traditions prior to the 1960–70s. Furthermore, the honor of serving nearly five years as a USMC infantry officer taught me a life lesson or two, such as that it is probably highly inadvisable for any outside band to march across The Citadel campus delivering — or on the way to deliver to that institution and its students — mockery.
And opposed to my fellow Princeton commentators on this matter, I believe that The Citadel students showed an element of restraint as compared to what could have happened. The Princeton band’s march, even if allowed by senior leadership at The Citadel, showed a complete ignorance of the concept of home turf. Many of The Citadel students involved soon are going to be deployed as military officers in harm’s way. And the odds are, unfortunately, that a few of them may even die for turf in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Both football and the military are physically and mentally all about controlling turf and controlled violence. I suggest that the members of the Princeton football team be asked whether they want the band accompanying them to away games. For it is on their blood, sweat, and often even tears that the band and its spirit of mockery ride.