Honorable Color Guards

I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity to travel throughout the United States as a color guard judge. Oftentimes, I am humbled by the artistry and efforts that I see before me. I marvel at the passion of performers and artistic vision of designers. However, I am sometimes saddened by the lack of sportsmanship and honorable competition that exists in our activity.

Why do some guard members perform eloquently and beautifully on the stage, yet when the costumes come off, they behave in a manner that is far beneath them? What could possibly be the benefit of negativity toward others in our activity?

A Place of Respect

The tools of honorable competition are much like the flag, saber and rifle; they require the same amount of practice and awareness. Win, lose or draw, behavior should flow from a place of respect, courtesy and encouragement. The teams above and below you in the rankings are all trying to do their best to succeed in the same way that you are.

There is absolutely no positive outcome from creating rivalries. Encouraging the members on your own team and all other teams should be the ultimate goal at shows. Let’s face it: Competing can be a bit of a pressurized situation, so a little encouragement can go a long way to alleviate the stress. It can be as simple as walking by another guard and wishing them luck.

It’s All About Manners

Honorable competitors behave in a courteous way before, during and after a show. Be kind to your teammates, opponents, instructors and the parents who have given up part of their weekend to support your efforts. Cheer your teammates on with positive statements and avoid trash-talking the other team.

Accept the contest outcome gracefully even if it goes against your guard. Whether you win or lose, congratulate your competitors on a performance well done. Treat others as you would wish to be treated—be Honorable Color Guards.

About the Author

Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity for more than 20 years. She is currently an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC); she travels to many other circuits throughout the United States as a guest adjudicator. For the past several years, she has held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC. She has a master’s degree in education and currently teaches middle school language arts.

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