Last night I was listening to the song American Pie. The song brought back memories of an incident I had almost forgotten: NIU’s “Marching Band Refused to Yield” incident.
Probably at least a decade ago, NIU made national news when one of the NIU football coaches got into a dispute with a visiting marching band and sent his players doing wind sprints through the band.
Band geek versus college football player. It didn’t end well for either side. A couple of band guys ended up with broken bones, but it was all captured on video, which meant that the football players’ bit of ‘fun’ was on record as assault, with zero chance of a successful defense.
The university immediately fired the coach and suspended or cut the players who tried to hit band members (quite a few of the players, to their credit, avoided the band members). The university then went to the families of the band members, hat in hand saying “please let us pay your medical bills. (and don’t sue us)”
Because of the American Pie connection, the story went viral–at least as viral as a story could back then, making the national news.
This was an early indicator of the way cheap video cameras everywhere changed the (pun intended) playing field. If the incident hadn’t been caught on video, the whole thing would have probably been a murky mess, with conflicting stories over what happened. As a coach and a few players found out, the cameras changed everything.