As you all know I live, breathe, and eat Jazz. It’s my purpose and mission in life to continue and contribute to the legacy of Jazz music. However, I do have other passions in my life and one of them is Football. My love for the NFL began in 2001 with the Bears playoff run. The come from behind victories, A- Train rushing for over 1,000 yards, Urlacher in the pinacle of his career, I was hooked. I’m an avid fan of all sports but in 2001 Football became my favorite sport and that passion has only grown since. Throughout my life I find a lot of similarities between Football and Jazz. This may seem like a stretch but bear with me I think you will find that the world of Jazz and The National Football League are actually quite similar.
As a Jazz studies student summer can be a bit of a disapoinment. Summer is a time we use to grow and develop, if you spend the summer slacking off everyone will know. Your technique will be sloppy, solos will be stagnant, and you will forget tunes you mastered months ago. Music is mastered through repetition and without constant practice you are lost. Football is similar to this. Sure the layoff is long but you have OTA’s, Mini camp, and Training Camp. By training camp you should be in top shape ready to play, that means physically fit and knowledgable on the playbook. This can only happen if you work year round working out and studying film. Alot can happen during the Offseason, there can be trades, a new coaching staff, and different players. And with the average career lasting an average of 3.2 years anyone can be replaced and the longer you play the more expendable you become. Both the Jazz musician and the Football player have to use their downtime to improve and be prepared for their respective season’s the consequence for slacking off are substantial. The Jazz musician can lose gigs and not be in it’s schools top band and the Football player can be cut from the team.
In Jazz just like the NFL there is competition. Sometimes it’s competitive within a band, it can be trumpet 2 trying to move up to trumpet 1 or it can be competitive between different musicians. Everyone fighting to get noticed, everyone wanting to have the best solo. In Football this happens during training camp, Wide Recievers trying to be the Number 1 option in the offense, or competition can occur when there’s an opening for the starting Quarterback position. There may differences between musicians and teammates but the goals are the same, the band has to sound good and the team has to win. If the individuals cannot cooperate and perhaps sacrifice personal glory for the betterment of the band/team the product on display will suffer.
Jazz musicians share alot of similarities with Football players, we have to work hard in Offseasons, work on individual achievments, and still sacrifice for the betterment of our respective groups. The last point is so important for both parties to remember. Can I as a musician accept that someone solos better and still accompany them and help in anyway possible? Can A Wide Reciever who is third on the depth chart still give advice to number one and two, contribute when called upon, and not be a detriment to the team? After all what matters in a combo setting is that the combo sounds good if that means you are not the lead so be it the combo comes before anyone. The same goes for Football, maybe you would like a bigger role but if the team needs you in your current postion isn’t that more important if it ultimately leads to a victory? The Jazz musicians and football players who will have long careers will not just be the most talented but the ones who realize that sacrificing a part of themselves for the betterment of the group ultimately pays off for the group and the indivdual. You don’t want to be known as egotistical or a cancer to every team/ group you work with. That will not lead to a long succesful career. Yes, I know there are exceptions but those are few and far between.
I feel sports and music have more similarities then we think. The joke is that all musicians are neurotic and all athletes are meatheads, I don’t believe this to be true. I believe that by looking and combining different attributes of both we can learn so much about ourselves and others. If we stop emphasizing on the differences and see the simliarities we can learn to appreciate the physiciality and complexity required for Football as well as the skill and intelect required for Jazz. After all, as a society, how can we grow and develop if we all just stay in our own box? We need to try and appreciate different things that’s how we grow, that’s how we inovate, that’s how we revolutionize.