Emotions initially rose high in 2020 with the announcement of the 47th annual Bayou Classic being postponed, and are even higher now with the new information that has been released regarding the status of participating bands within the Southwestern Athletics Conference (SWAC) .
It was announced in October of 2020 that the Bayou Classic would be held on April 17, 2021 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and although many share the mindset that the change in scenery would not give the same feel, many fans were still excited to attend the event. After all, the Bayou Classic is not just a regular football game, it is the “Granddaddy” of all HBCU rivalries.
More than the game itself however, is the culture that is presented through the HBCU culture that’s put on the forefront of the black college sports stage. This includes the soulful sound of the marching bands stepping into formation, and the loud, passionate chants and calls from the honorable, prestigious and most distinguished Divine Nine.
The back-and-forth battle of the bands in the stands, the melodic sounds as the players run to their positions, the halftime performance, and so much more all make up the “Classic Experience” that so many fans and alumni return to annually. However, in January of 2021, SWAC announced that no away bands will be able to play at games. Being that both Southern University and Grambling State are away teams for the classic rivalry matchup, and as such, no band will be allowed to perform during the game.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to several events that we have grown used to over the years, but never did anyone imagine a Bayou Classic without the Human JukeBox and the World Famed Tiger Marching Band. Despite the obvious disappointment however, the decision was well thought out for the safety of all band members, players, spectators and all stakeholders involved in this year’s Bayou Classic. With the constant rise of COVID-19 cases and the state of Louisiana going back into Phase 2 of quarantine earlier in the year, this was the most logical decision to make. Although we don’t want to hear it, all decisions are made with the best interest of all parties involved in mind.
The news has come as quite a disappointment to not only the bands, but also many spectators. On the bright side, our ears will still be graced with the sound of the band at all home games this year. This season is definitely like no other, but at least there is still a season to be played. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that next year’s performances will be off the charts. We are certainly in for a treat with both school’s performances. It will be one to remember for years to come. This is only a minor setback for a major comeback.