ESPN Band of The Year pushing money over exposure for HBCUs

ATLANTA — Celebration Bowl has become a fixture in the HBCU calendar, and this year a sister event was added — the ESPN Band of The Year. 

Florida Memorial took home the Division II Band of The Year, while North Carolina A&T took home the award on the Division I level. The results were announced on Saturday, just over 20 hours after the event itself.

ESPN Events’ John T. Grant, executive director of the Celebration Bowl as well as the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, came to the HBCU Gameday Studios to talk about the event with our Tolly Carr and Steven J. Gaither. Grant said the purpose of the event was to create something that both showcased HBCU bands AND compensated them properly. 

“Changing the mindset was great. Putting economics behind it,” Grant said. “At the end of the day it’s going to come down to — you don’t pay a bill, signed with exposure. And if you can get both and we can help facilitate both, then we’re getting the best of both worlds. And that’s what this event was about.” 

Band of The Year, Jackson State,

Friday’s event took place at 6 PM on Friday, with fans spread all over the massive Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the shadow of downtown Atlanta. Grant said he anticipates having all the fans on one side of the stadium next year as the event continues to grow. And he does expect it to grow.  

“This event is going to be as big as the Celebration Bowl — if not bigger. And you’re hearing it here first,” Grant said on the HBCU Gameday set. “This was just Year One. It was Year One for everyone — including us. This has never been done before.”

Grant said that the judges began scoring at 10 PM and worked into the morning. He said the plan, all along, was to announce the winner after halftime at Saturday’s game. That decision was two-fold — giving the judges time to audit the scores and to make sure to give Florida A&M and Howard University their moment to shine on the field at halftime of the Celebration Bowl. 

“We didn’t want to announce the champion ahead of halftime,” Grant said. “Then it takes the air out of the sails of the bands that are performing at the Celebration Bowl. And we felt the appropriate time was to do it then.”

Grant said that there would be some modifications from Year One to Year Two. Some would be slight, like moving all the fans to one side of stadium. The ESPN Band of the Year trophies, like the Celebration Bowl trophy, will go on a traveling tour as well. He also revealed hopes for an additional event 

“I believe it is something we can implement, and that is having a parade with the competing bands in a parade prior to the competition that night,” Grant said. “They’ll be in a parade down Main Street here in Atlanta. And then that night they’ll be cued up to be in actual championship mode. So we do see that being a part of it. Creating our own Tournament of Roses parade, so to speak.” 

ESPN Band of The Year pushing money over exposure for HBCUs

Source link : hbcugameday.com

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