Baton Twirling is a Sport

photograph by Colleen Tighe

BY NICOLE LaPLANT

As a sport that has been misrepresented by the old-fashioned majorettes for decades, baton twirling has been swept under the rug as no more than a fun activity. Baton twirling is a sport because it requires practice, dedication, conditioning, and teamwork.

As a baton twirler, I spend hours each week practicing different rolls, tosses, and finger twirls with one baton, in addition to tricks with two and three batons. Baton twirlers like myself even learn to twirl fire. Being a twirler requires dedication and a sense of teamwork, because becoming a successful twirler is not only dependent upon having the confidence to twirl solo, but upon twirling in sync with others also.

There are many twirlers in the world, with an estimatedone million competitive twirlers in the country.” At these competitions a twirler is judged “with varying emphases on technical proficiency and aesthetics.” The routines which are performed can be up to two to three minutes with the goal of fitting in as many tricks as possible as fast as possible in the allowed time. This requires the “stamina of a sprinter in track and field,” and the “shoulder strength of a swimmer.” In addition to performing tricks, baton twirlers combine “elements of gymnastics, juggling and dance” with their routines to put on a show and add personality to them.

Baton twirlers also have “absolutely no off-season.” This means year-round dedication to perfecting tricks and maneuvers with absolutely no break, taking just as much dedication as traditional sports such as soccer, basketball, or football, which all by the way do have an off season. There are even injuries in baton twirling, just like in football or soccer. I have left practice countless times with bruises on my upper arms, hands, and legs. These bruises have come from my baton, as well as gymnastic and dance maneuvers I practice.

Most twirlers pick up a baton between the ages of “0 and 6 years old.” Not only does this take major dedication, but also a love for the sport. The problem is, the majority of people don’t know what baton twirling is. Most outsiders see twirlers as “people with metal sticks,” since twirling competitions aren’t aired on television like traditional sports.

Jason Lee, a top baton twirler in the US explained, “if you’re not dropping you’re not trying” and “nobody gets that, ” because they don’t understand the complexity of the sport and the finesse needed to master it.

People are uneducated about baton twirling, and they have the wrong impression of what it’s about. If people were to be introduced to the sport and came to understand the beauty and intensity of it, I believe they would love it too, and it could finally be recognized as a sport.