I was talking with one of the JROTC instructors at one of the local high schools where I teach in the afternoons and he was relaying the story of their color guard presenting the colors for a professional ball club and how the training I gave the team really helped since it provided the cadets and the instructors with a repertoire of moves from which they could choose to make their colors presentation look as professional as possible. Then it hit me- I really need to write an article about this! Yes, all of this information is in my book, The Honor Guard Manual, but, I really want to get this information out as far and wide as possible- as I always say, “Education is key”!
For the announcers: here is a great article on what to announce for the different situations announcers may encounter. Click here for the article, P.A. Announcement: Color/Honor Guard.
UPDATE: Which way does the team face? A cadet contacted me on Instagram asking about the proper direction to face for presenting the colors. That is an excellent question! Below, the images concentrate mainly on professional events where the team must hit a certain mark for the TV cameras. However, there are high school and college games that come into question, although many college games, if not all, are probably on the same level of a professional event with TV cameras.
I appreciate why a team would face an end zone from the opposite end zone instead of facing only the home team stands and fully support that thinking, this is exactly what my color guard used to do while I was drum major of my high school band. Doing it is very appropriate, here’s why: it’s a game, not a war. Yes, I understand that some may build a sport up to the level of “doing battle on the field”, but it’s not even close. The other team is not made up of enemies. The other side of the field or court is full of spectators: parents and grandparents who are out to see their student play his or her heart out. Everyone is there to support their team and enjoy the sport. Facing only one side does not create a sense of mutual respect.
There are a couple (at least) different ways to enter, position, and exit a sports field. Some, provide a unique “problem” on how to accomplish the ceremony while keeping the flag in the primary spot (to the marching right or in front). Once you read this, you will not encounter any more “problems”.
Below I have created images to illustrate the different ways to enter and exit the different fields you may come across. If it is a professional sport, your team will have a certain spot to hit at a certain time while facing a certain direction for the TV camera all coordinated with the timing for the broadcast.
Do you need to find out how to execute the moves mentioned above (e.g. Every Left On/Off, etc.)? Get these books that will explain everything for you (click on the title):
Entrance from the viewer’s left. For this setup, the team would form up in column formation and wait. At their cue, they would march forward, round their corner to the right at the corner of the court, and at the center line, execute Every Left On, to rearrange the team for the presentation. The team may wait at the back of the court and again wait for another cue, or continue to march forward once in line formation and hit their mark for the presentation. An alternate to this is rounding the corner at the key and executing Every Left On at center court.
The same principles apply for Baseball and Football.
Entrance from the viewer’s right. For this setup, the team marches out to the pitcher’s mound, or behind second base in single file, picks up Mark Time at a predetermined spot, and executes a Colors Turn-On. The farther back the team, the more audience is able to see the team from the front, but also begins to look smaller.
The exit would then be either a Colors Turn-Off to exit to the viewer’s left, or Every Left Off to retrace the path of entry.
The Football layout is similar to the Basketball layout.
In this example, the team only faces the home team side. The team could form in line formation, march forward and stop at the 20 yard line and thereby present the colors to most of both sides of the stadium. This does not work for all stadiums, just something to consider.
Ice Hockey, however, is a little different. Notice the Big difference in carpet positioning at the beginning.
Ice Hockey Rink
The first setup involves entering, traveling down the carpet and presenting to the right. This involves Every Left On. To exit from here, the team execute a Colors Turn-Off.
The second setup involves traveling down the carpet and presenting to the left. This involves Colors Turn-On. To exit from here, the team execute Every Left Off beginning with the Right Rifle/Axe Guard.
The “T” Matt
Every once in a while I receive a question or a comment about a unique colors presentation predicament that makes me think for a couple of minutes. This is one and here’s my suggestion for a couple of ways to enter and exit.
If you need to split for a singer, entering in a Column of Twos is probably going to be your best option.
If you don’t need to split, entering in a single column, hitting the left side of the mat to snake around into line helps the trail guard get into position much easier than having the team enter at the center and leaving the trail guard to move really quickly over to the side. The flags in the diagram are at an angle to help show the team.
Exiting can take the form of a Colors Turn (Army/AF) or Countermarch ((MC/N/CG) and then the lead/right rifle guard steps off and on the next left the US bearer steps off, and the rest of the team on subsequent left steps. Bringing the colors out of the harness socket to either Straight or Left Angle Port (rifles to Port as well) is a good idea since the color guard’s job is finished and the focus should no longer be on the team.
If you are split because of a singer, the singer needs to leave first so that you can maneuver with as much room as possible. The team faces inward, US and guard move first and wait for Other flag and guard, all steps off and leave in Column of Twos or single file. The flags in the diagram are at an angle to help show the team.