It's Not About "Cool."
Here's the thing that bothers me about Jim Rome's ill-considered tweet: He's asking the wrong question.
Marching band shouldn't be about "cool." I'm not saying that it is or isn't—that's too subjective. No, marching band—any extracurricular activity—should be about being good. Good for communities, good for spectators, but mostly good for students.
I wasn't the typical marching band kid: I was serious about making music my life and livelihood. This complicates things for many in my situation, but for me, it was an opportunity to learn how to play percussion, which had a direct and very positive impact on my rhythmic development, not to mention the close friends I made during my four years on drumline.
In contrast, for the vast majority of marching band members, music is a hobby. It provides community; it provides the satisfaction of working toward a tangible goal; it provides the thrill of live performance and gives you a workout along the way. (Marching band is a sport. It just is.)
It's a gateway drug to classical music. I saw or marched shows that included music by Adams, Stravinsky, Mozart, Shostakovich, Dvořák, and so many others. Marching band presents a tremendous opportunity to develop personal connections to the great masterworks of the classical canon. At its best, it's a full-sensory experience of some of the towering achievements in Western art.
Is that cool? I don't know. But it is good.