Unveiling the impact of music on game day

Sports soundtracks continually evolve, enhancing the unforgettable fan experience.


My family has always been major soccer fans. I think that’s why my earliest memory of music in sports is 5-year-old me singing Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” on repeat during the entirety of the  2010 FIFA World Cup. 

My love for music in sports has stayed pretty consistent since then. Whether it’s singing along during the Super Bowl’s halftime shows or feeling the increased excitement as soon as MLB walk-up songs start to play, I love it all. The only exception to this might be having to hear the Dutch anthem play for 13 races this past season in Formula 1.

But what’s the importance of music in sports anyway?

The world of sports is unique in its unifying and timeless nature, and music can manifest itself in various ways that allow sporting events to be the magical experience they are. Whether honoring a winner by playing their country’s national anthem, hyping up a crowd of fans or building up anticipation for a player’s entrance, music does it all.

Let’s take a look at the real cross-section of music and sports. 

Revisiting my love for the World Cup and its tracks, the practice of having an official World Cup song started in 1990, 60 years after the first tournament. The tournament is a global celebration, and, in accordance, the official songs that have been released have allowed fans all around the globe to unite. 

Despite fans rooting for different teams and being from diverse places, the songs released honor such a wide celebration, allowing for these lines to blur. Whether you were rooting for Germany or Mexico, “Waka Waka” had fans worldwide as excited as ever for the start of the World Cup. 

For so many World Cups, I have unknowingly been able to share my excitement for its start with fans millions of miles away from me through a single song, and knowing that is truly amazing. Experiences like these make sporting events like the World Cup so special. Yes, everyone wants their team to win, but, at the end of the day, the true enjoyment of the event lies in millions of soccer fans tuning in to enjoy their favorite sport. 

It is clear that music can be a tool used in sports to bring fans together. Just like in soccer, music has its unique role in the MLB. 

MLB walk-up songs are a tradition that allows players to show a little bit of who they are through music. This practice wasn’t always what it looks like today, though it all started with Nancy Faust. Faust was a stadium organist for the Chicago White Sox; she played the usual national anthem and other classics, until she realized she could do much more. 

As players came up to bat, Faust started playing different songs related to them. Eventually, these funny takes on the player’s nicknames and personalities became known as walk-up songs. Today, walk-up songs are picked by the players as a way of showcasing their personality, connecting with fans and adding extra excitement to the game. 

Allowing fans to learn more about their favorite player through music is one of the many benefits of such a fun tradition. 

Speaking of fun traditions, this wouldn’t be a sports and music article if I didn’t include the iconic Super Bowl halftime show. Consistently being the most-watched event in the United States, it is no surprise that the halftime show attracts a lot of that viewership. 

Unlike in the World Cup or MLB, halftime shows have been a part of the Super Bowl since its start in 1967. But it did look a lot different than how it does now. Originally, halftime shows were simply performed by college marching bands. This forever changed thanks to Michael Jackson, whose 1993 performance made halftime ratings surpass that of the actual game for the first time. 

Like World Cup official songs, the halftime show allows fans from all over the country to join in simultaneously and experience a special link between sports and pop culture. Headliners contribute to the game’s energy of high anticipation — fans aren’t just anxious to see who will win, they are also excited to watch the spectacle that is the halftime show. 

These different emotions, from the game to the performance, allow the Super Bowl to be the special sporting event that it is. You don’t have to be a die-hard football fan to enjoy it — that’s what makes it such a special event in the U.S.

Music carries great importance all across the sports world. It is an amazing tool that allows fans to connect with one another, as well as the teams and players they love the most. 

Regina Correa is a freshman writing about the world of sports, its intersection with culture and the stories that lie within in her column “The Cultural Playbook,” which runs every other Monday.

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