Unsung as they often are despite an amount of practice and preparation that rivals that of the athletic teams at whose games they perform, members of the Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band rightfully are disappointed.
As the Tribune’s Andrea Falkenhagen reported Wednesday, band members — and band alumni — recently learned that the band will not be accompanying the football team to the upcoming Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu.
The reason has to do with money, not any lack of appreciation for the band’s hard work. Unlike better-financed postseason games, the Hawaii Bowl does not pay for band travel. With a comparatively small $400,000 payout for participating in the Dec. 24 game against the University of Hawaii, the ASU athletic department is likely to have nothing left after the team’s expenses.
Bowl games are not the creation of the universities who participate in them, but of the communities where they are played.
As such, calls by band alumni to put pressure on ASU to pay to send some or all current band members to Honolulu unfairly target the university — whose athletics officials are already having to deal with a seven-figure buyout of the contract of fired football coach Dirk Koetter — when it’s the Hawaii Bowl itself that might be more deserving of criticism.
And airline-ticket bookings being what they are, ASU fans’ having only learned of the Devils’ being in the game three weeks before it is to be played offers even the most ardent fan a major challenge to afford a trip to attend the game.
Thus, as much as the team would appreciate it otherwise, the number of ASU faithful in the stands to be spurred on by the band to cheer for the Sun Devils cannot be expected to be considerable. It’s likely that more Devils fans would be on hand to hear the band at a send-off rally here to wish the team well before it leaves for Hawaii.
As for the home audience, the game will be played in the evening hours, Arizona time, on Christmas Eve, not exactly a high TVwatching time period.
Band alumni are right to be disappointed because the current band won’t be in Hawaii this Christmas. But in the brief time available to them they might consider raising some money privately. It might get at least a smaller contingent of musicians there.