A marching band is as integral a part of high school football as Friday nights. Fall tradition not withstanding, in Nebraska, band participation now all but officially ends at the conclusion of the regular season, thanks to the playoff ticketing regulations implemented by the Nebraska School Activities Association.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, the NSAA forces all band members to pay gate admission to perform at postseason games. In essence, marching bands are asked to pay like any customer, then entertain the other customers while they're at it.
As a result, most bands stop traveling en masse at the end of the regular season to save the expense. The World-Herald reported that only a pep band from Millard South and Millard North showed up for those schools' crosstown playoff showdown last Friday. Last year's Class A final was reportedly even worse, with neither team fielding a band of any sort.
The NSAA has always operated under the belief that forcing bands to pay their own admission would increase the ticket gate by however many band members performed for the school. Yet, as World-Herald columnist Stu Pospisil pointed out in a piece earlier this week, that logic itself is flawed. By forcing the bands to pay, the NSAA essentially ensures that a majority of those teenagers won't attend the game. That might cost them as much as 150 out of 200 band members in attendance (assuming some sort of pep band plays on).
By comparison, if the bands were still given free admission, its highly likely that a gaggle of band parents would also attend the game, conceivably raising ticket revenues far higher than they would be even if all band members paid to attend themselves.
Of course, all that logic-crunching is based on hypothetical circumstances, and none of those scenarios are actually in play in the current Nebraska postseason. Instead, the teams that play on do so with a much quieter atmosphere than they're used to, which seems like quite a shame.