Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 2, 2014

Calling a personal foul on a band

By Daris Howard Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — David waited quite a while for his friend, John, to show up, because they were supposed to have a band trombone sectional.

David was the section leader, and he needed John. The two of them were the only seniors in their section, and John’s talent was necessary to help the younger band members. David called John’s cell phone, but there was no answer. After some time, David was finally forced to run the practice without him.

It was a short practice, after which he looked up John’s home number and called it. He was not there, and his family said he had been at the school the whole time, so David went looking for him. His search finally led him to the gym where a company was installing a new scoreboard system. There he found John sitting in the bleachers, very alert, holding his trombone in hand. No one else besides John and the scoreboard company technicians were in the gym, so David’s curiosity forced him to stop and watch his friend.

When the company would test something on the new scoreboard, and sound the buzzer, John would immediately blow into his trombone. After watching this for a short time, David walked over to the bleachers where John was seated.

“John,” David said, “did you know you missed sectional?”

“I did?” John replied. He paused as the realization settled on him. “Oh, we did have that today, didn’t we? I’m sorry. But I heard them blowing this buzzer. It sounded almost like our trombone section, and I’ve been trying to duplicate it.”

At that instant the buzzer sounded again, and John tried to imitate it, but there was something slightly different. David realized it didn’t sound like one trombone, but it did sound like their section. He ran to retrieve his instrument, then hurried back.

“Let’s try it together,” he said.

The next time the buzzer sounded, John played, and David added a slight overtone. The sound was so close to the buzzer that the men working on the scoreboard checked to see why their buzzer had gone off of its own accord. David and John knew it wasn’t perfect, but they knew they could make it so, and they laughed and high fived each other.

They worked on perfecting it, but dared not use it at a home game when their own score keepers would be blamed. However, the buzzers sound just about the same at every school, so the first time they played in the pep band at away game against their strongest rival, they were ready. The first time a member of the opposing team shot from the foul line, they played. The sound they made scared the shooter, and the ball went wide of its mark.

Their sound may not have been perfect, but it fooled almost everyone. The ref was perturbed and yelled at the score keepers. The score keepers looked at their equipment, stunned that it would sound off on its own.

As David and John continued their mischief, even though the reverberation of the hall made it impossible for anyone to distinguish where the sound came from, it soon became obvious to all that it only occurred when the home team was about to make a shot. That, of course, meant that it had to be the visiting team’s side. Still, it was nearly halftime before the refs were sure it was the band, and by then the home team was so unnerved by it that they had a huge deficit.

To that point it had already been an unprecedented game, and once the refs were sure who the culprit was, they did something else unprecedented; they called the first personal foul on a band that anyone could ever remember.

But this raises a final question: if a band receives five personal fouls, can they be ejected from the game like a player can?