There have always been very close links between sports and music – and they may well be getting closer still.
Whether it’s the theme song for a particular team or a boxer’s walk-on music, the sounds that they chose soon to start to become part of the brand. Prime examples of these include the use of Sweet Georgia Brown by the Harlem Globetrotters and countless boxers using either “Eye of the Tiger” or “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” as they enter the arena.
In many cases the choice of music is then taken up by fans of the team or the sportsperson in question as chants to add to the febrile atmosphere of an event. Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is a particular favourite at the moment across a whole range of sports.
But the role of music in sport is far more than one of simple entertainment. At already adrenalin-stoked events it can help to crank up the atmosphere for both fans and participants.
Music and motivation
In fact, several studies have been carried out showing the motivating effects that music can have on sports people as well as amateurs. So, it stands to reason that a team or an individual will be able to raise their performance when they hear a piece of music or song with special significance to them. Then there’s the added benefit of hearing it being belted out at full volume by thousands of adoring fans.
With this kind of wholehearted support from the bleachers or the stands any team is likely to perform at their very best.
Of course, there are also many other links between sport and music and they are pretty much all rooted in emotion. A great piece of music can create the same sense of elation that witnessing great sporting prowess can. Both somehow transcend language when trying to describe both the feeling and effect.
So, with all these reasons why music and sport fit so naturally together, it’s not surprising that sports events are now embracing live performances by artists as part of the overall experience.
The biggest stage of all.
So, it comes as no surprise that top betting events like the US Open see the benefits of lining up major music artists for ticket sales. Last year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows featured acts like DNCE performing in the Fan Week leading up to the tournament. It also saw the nine year-old daughter of tennis player Bob Bryan, Micaela, sing the national anthem before the women’ singles final between Iga Świątek and Ons Jabeur.
But undoubtedly the jewel in the crown for any performer is an invitation to perform at the Superbowl.
To see what kind of honour this really is one only has to know that even the biggest artists in the world, who could demand performance fees of millions of dollars, agree to perform for free with only the most basic expenses being met by the NFL.
The reason for this is simple. They only need to perform for a relatively short time and their global exposure will be massive.
It’s seen everyone from Eminem to Lady Gaga and from The Weeknd to Beyoncé take to the stage at half time and this year’s event was especially significant. Not only did the Barbados-born star Rihanna have the chance to relaunch her career after a fairly prolonged absence, it also gave her the opportunity to reveal that she was expecting her second child.
So, it would be fair to say that each year the announcement of who will play at half time is awaited almost as eagerly by fans as finding out who will actually compete in America’s biggest domestic sporting event.
Another sport which has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of combining music and major events is basketball. We’ve already mentioned how the Harlem Globetrotters harnessed music to achieve their own ends and it also plays a part at the two big showpieces of the season.
At this year’s All Star Game where the Western and Eastern Conferences battled it out with their very best players, Burna Boy, Tems and Rena were selected to share the very best of Afro-beats with the crowd in the Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City.
Then, at the end of season finals which saw the Denver Nuggets convincingly beat Miami Heat 4-1, the former may well have been spurred on by the stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Nathanial Ratecliffe and the Night Sweats.
Luckily, they didn’t suffer the same fate as Eric Burton of the Black Pumas who sang the wrong words to the song at the start of the 2022 baseball World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros.
A timely warning, if it’s needed, that the links between music and sport are always beneficial to a performer’s reputation!