Both sports and music are integral parts of contemporary culture. We have cheery chants, anthems, songs and soundtracks that we use all the time to give the games a whole new dimension and heighten the connection between teams and fans all over the world. No matter if you’re watching the Olympics, cheering for your team at the Superbowl, or sitting at the edge of your seat during the World Cup, music can help create a more tense and pleasurable atmosphere. It allows us to celebrate good moments, give sports a musical narrative, and present movement in sports through rhythm and sound. Music is also a big part of the fandom, which strengthens the community and common identity. Here’s how music has been used in sports throughout the times:
Ever since ancient Greece, music has been tied to sporting events, especially during the Olympic games every four years. These Pan-Hellenic games had a very high cultural significance, with many cultural elements included in the event. At many festivals, music played an integral role in the contests.
When in 1896, the Olympic games got their revival, music was also incorporated into the event, especially when it came to festivities connected to the competition. On March 25th, 1896, the philharmonic orchestra played performed the first Olympic Hymn, as well as the national anthem. The first Olympic Hymn was written by poet Kostis Palamas and set to music by Spyridon Samaras, the famous Greek composer. Since then, classical and modern music have been present at the Olympics every year.
1800s and 1900s
It seems that football has the biggest connection with music in modern society. And this is not something that started recently—the same has been happening for at least 100 years. According to research based on football throughout time, there are articles in British Newspaper Archives that support this claim. In the 1800s, there were many articles in the newspapers writing about songs that fans played and sang. Throughout the decades, and all the way to World War II, the same trend continued. A quick research in the archives tells us that these old songs were often written by fans and submitted to the newspapers for other fans to adopt and for the public to criticize.
In the 1920s, the music-hall genre started to have a big effect on the world of sports. Even some players were sometimes making appearances on the music-hall bills, especially as athletes started to grow in status and celebrity. According to researchers, fans would often take these music-hall songs (change the words or not) and adopt them for their clubs. Over time, these tunes became a part of the clubs and the game they supported. One of the best demonstrations of this phenomenon is the iconic “You’ll Never Walk Alone” song of the Liverpool football club. What not many fans know is that this song originated in the Rodger and Hammerstein musical called “Carousel”.
Music therapy for athletes
Today, the role of music in sports goes even deeper than chants and scores—it can also be used in training and meditation for athletes to relax before and after their games and practices. As a practice, music therapy strives to support people in their improvement of health, functioning and overall well-being. Depending on the athletes’ goals, music can be used as a therapeutic tool that can bring focus, relaxation, pain management and many other benefits. Since both music and sports are creative and imaginative in their own ways, it can also trigger new ideas and bring inspiration to the team.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or a huge sports fan to experience the connection between sports and music. If you ever go to the gym, attend a workout class, or even run every once in a while, your workout will probably be accompanied by music. Music helps the mind focus; it gives you that extra ounce of motivation and can provide you with more adrenaline and happy hormones. It gives rhythm to your runs and can help keep your mind entertained during long cardio sessions.
It’s obvious that sports and music are forever intertwined and have always been. Since ancient times through our most iconic sports moments to amateur athletes doing it all for fun, all our biggest matches have had a wonderful soundtrack.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.