Winter Guard is a Sport!
And deserves to be recognized
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I am shaking; sweat is beading down my face; my hands are bruised and discolored from catching my flag and nailing every toss. My calf muscles ache from running through our show multiple times, and my cheeks are sore from performing. My family (as I call my team) surrounds me, all in the same condition, bruised and sore, as we wearily fold up the mat from another long exhausting practice. All of this physical exertion, and we are not considered athletes, because winter guard is not considered a sport.
Because of that, we don’t get letterman jackets; we don’t get invited to the winter sports banquet; we don’t get recognized at pep rallies; and we don’t get mentioned in the morning announcements.
How is it that we spend nine hours a week working hard mentally and physically, but we’re still not considered a sport? This is what I want to change. I have been part of Winter Guard for four years, but it’s called a “club” and not a sport, even though it requires extreme athleticism and competition.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Our team participates in at least five competitions each season. And our practice last for three hours.
We warm up and rehearse our show over and over again until our legs feel wobbly and our lungs are about to give out. I never go to school the next day without my body aching from rehearsal the night before. We work together to perform and tell a story as one unit. But, all the hard work is worth it because whenever we compete, we leave our audience in awe.
It hurts that winter guard is disrespected by being called a club and not a sport. Competitions are scored much like cheerleading. We travel across the state to attend competitions where our blood, sweat and tears come together. We put everything into these shows, and come off the floor happy with our hearts pounding. We are a team; we compete; and we are a sport.
Winter guard is not a club that meets once a week for 15 minutes. We work hard to perfect ourselves for competition. We may use unconventional elements such as flags, dance and performance, but we are not a club. We are a sport! And, I hope that someday, we will be recognized that way.