How are contest locations selected?
Every SFWGA member unit is eligible to host a contest.
Host applications are available online in the summer and
fall prior to the start of the season.
How are scores calculated?
Scoring is a complex process and judges must train for
many years to master this art. The scoring process is based
on learning theory. The highest scoring units challenge
performers to learn, practice, and finally master new skills
by continuously adding new and more complex work into the
show. For this reason, early in the season a unit that performs
perfectly may not score as high as a unit that exhibits
more complex work that the performers are being challenged
to master. There are multiple captions to each activity,
and each caption is divided into two parts. Approximately
one half of the total score is awarded on how well the show
is designed relative to the performers' skills, and the
other half is awarded on how well the performers execute
What causes penalties?
Color Guard performances have minimum and maximum time
limits: interval time, which is the total amount
of time the unit is on the floor, including set-up and tear-down,
and show time, which is the total time of the actual
performance. Color guard has one additional element, minimum
equipment time, which measures the elapsed time that
equipment is in at least one performer's hands. The majority
of penalties are due to overages in interval time, or being
short on performance or equipment time. Other penalties
may be assessed for boundary line infractions, improper
equipment or prop padding, performer eligibility, instructor
coaching from the stands, or adults on the contest floor
after the performance begins, among others.
What are the different scoring classifications?
The SFWGA uses the WGI Scoring system. Ensembles are
grouped by general skill level with specific skill criteria
defined for each group. Tthe AAA, AA, and JV classes are
entry level classifications where performers learn basic
work. "A" Class is the largest class nationally,
where performers have mastered the basic skills and have
integrated some intermediate skills into their performances.
Locally, we separate the upper level of the color guard
A class into Elite A, which tends to be units that compete
in WGI Regionals and often Nationals. Open class participants
are usually National competitors that have mastered intermediate
skills as well as some advanced skills. World Class is the
highest skill level, and is typically the result of highly
advanced programs. Professional designers, composers, and
choreographers work with performers, who are expected to
have mastered all elements of the activity and are focused
on exhibiting new levels of creativity in performance and
How are contests funded?
Admission ticket sales cover slightly less than half
of contest expenses. Membership fees that units pay to join
the SFWGA cover 32% of the expenses, and Host Franchise
Fees, the fee the Host School pays to the SFWGA, cover 18%
of the contest expenses.
Why aren't contests evenly distributed among Broward,
Dade and Palm Beach counties?
The SFWGA depends on its member schools to offer their
campuses for contests. Since the average contest can bring
50 or more school groups on campus, school administrations
can be reluctant to agree to hosting a contest. Band programs
and booster associations may not have adequate volunteers
or resources available. Hosting a contest is a complex undertaking
requiring many months of planning. The SFWGA works with
all new Hosts to help plan and organize their events. All
SFWGA member color guard, percussion, and winds units are
eligible to apply to host a contest. A
disproportionate amount of contests among counties is the
result of a disproportionate number of schools within those
counties that make their campuses available.
Why aren't admission prices the same at all contests?
The SFWGA sets the admission ticket prices for the Premiere,
Championship Prelims and Championship Finals contests. The
hosting band programs and booster organizations each set
the admission prices for the remaining contests at their
are my son/daughter's opions for participation with a winter
If your son or daughter attends an elementary, middle, or
high school that fields a member unit with the SFWGA, then
they are only eligble to perform with that team. The SFWGA
encourages and supports independent teams for high school
graduates, college students, and for students whose school
does not field a winter guard team. Please refer to our
Policies and Procedures document (above) for a complete
breakdown of eligibility rules.
can't I make a video recording of my son/daughter's performance?
Copyright laws guarantee that music composers, artists,
and publishers have the right to control every aspect of
the music tracks they create. The purchase of recorded music
by consumers only gives the consumer the right to use that
piece of music for their own personal enjoyment. The performance
of both live music and recorded music in a public venue
requires additional licensing and the payment of royalties
to the licensing organizations. This is true even if that
music is just used as a backdrop to a performance, as in
color guard, or in the intervals between performances. The
SFWGA has competition and concert music licenses from ASCAP
and BMI, the two prominent licensing organizations in the
US, for all of our competitions, including color guard,
winds, and percussion. These licenses specifically prohibit
any spectator video recording that includes the music track.
Recording any aspect of a performance is a violation of
our license terms, and could result in the revocation of
permissions for one or more units. The SFWGA sets a positive
example for our student performers through compliance with
US Copyright laws and respect for the rights of the music
composers and publishers.
Why do some performance times change during the week
before a contest?
Preliminary performance times are first posted following
the add/drop membership period in December. However, units
may continue to enter or withdraw from contests throughout
the season. We discourage units from changing contests or
classifications during the last 2 weeks prior to each contest,
and generally post the final performance times during that
final two week period. However, with 87 participating ensembles
during the 2016 season, it is inevitable that some minor
changes will occur, even during the final week. We do not
make changes during the final week before each contest that
would change a unit's performance time by more than 30 minutes.
The final official performance times are available on this
website and the mobile phone site by noon on Friday before