Drumline Battle | Army vs Air Force (Who Won?)

A line of five Air Force officers in navy blue uniforms play the drums.

West Point and the US Air Force Academy are two elite military universities where future officers of the Army and Air Force, respectively, are trained. They compete annually in a football game that is a major event for both schools and for many people in the general public, as well. A popular pre-game custom is a battle between the two schools’ drumlines. This battle was recorded before the November 2012 game in West Point, NY.

Watch it here.


1. Each school’s performance is carefully designed and expertly executed. To a casual observer, the two drumlines may seem very similar, yet each one takes a very different stance in its performance. How might you characterize these two stances? How does each school “want to come across,” as Chapter 8 of your text states? Explain your reasoning.

2. This pre-game performance of the two schools’ drumlines is called a battle, which is the customary way to refer to such events. In addition to drumlines, many other types of art genres have battles, as well—a quick YouTube search turns up lip sync, break dance, rap, and beatbox battles, for example. Why might the term battle be preferred over, say, contest or competition? What is the appeal of battle? Could such an event be called a face-off? a challengeshowdownconversation? How would each of these terms change the way that you view the event? Which term do you prefer? Why? Explain your reasoning.

3. LET’S TALK. Read through the comments on the YouTube page. Have any of the commenters observed features that you hadn’t noticed while watching the video? What generalizations can you make about the comments as a whole? Discuss your impressions about the comments and the video with a few classmates. How do your impressions and opinions differ from theirs? In what ways, if any, have your perspectives and opinions of the performances changed as a result of the comments and/or your conversations with classmates? 

4. LET’S WRITE. The title given to the video asks “Who won?” Who do you think won? According to the commenters, which side won?  In games such as basketball, softball, or tennis, there are explicit rules and the scores are recorded so that a clear winner can be declared at the end of the game, and for many people, that end result is the most important part. Is it important whether this drumline battle should have a clear winner? Why or why not? Was there a clear “winner” in this battle? Should there have been? Why or why not? Write an essay addressing these questions and arguing for your position.

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