Good sports theme songs get you pumped up for big games. Great sports theme songs become inextricably linked to the sports they were written for, such that whenever you think of that sport, the song immediately pops into your head.
Today, we’re going to count down the 15 greatest sports theme songs of all time. Some are still in use today. Others have gone the way of the Dodo thanks to the ever-changing sports broadcasting landscape. But they’ve all been stuck in your head at one point or another, and they will always be associated with some truly great games, players, moments, and teams.
Take a look…
CBS's college football theme, written by David Dachinger, has a very solid, hummable tune. It's way more epic than ABC's college football theme, and more memorable too. My only complaint is that it's not as "footbally" (i.e. warlike) as it could be. NBC could use it for their coverage of the America's Cup and people would be like, yeah, that works.
15. CBS College Football
I love the way NBC's hockey theme starts off sounding like the music for an old-school hockey video game before busting out the brass for the grandiose melody. It's pretty damn solid.
14. NHL on NBC
I've never actually liked Fox's baseball coverage. However, I'm a big fan of their theme music. It's basically just a variation of their main sports theme song, featuring numerous allusions to the musical themes of their more famous NFL theme song...which makes sense seeing as how all the Fox Sports themes were written by Scott Schreer.
13. MLB on Fox
I liked CBS's old NFL theme song, but the current one, also written (I believe) by David Dachinger, is better. It sounds like it's from the score to a Michael Bay movie or something. Which is awesome.
12. NFL on CBS
Oh man, NBC hit a home run with their Sunday Night Football theme (okay fine, they "scored a touchdown"), which is hardly surprising when you learn it was written by John Williams, the greatest film composer of all time.
Interestingly, this is is not the only classic sports theme composed by John Williams to appear on this list. There's one more. Care to take a guess as to which one it might be?
11. Sunday Night Football
Honestly, I like the Sunday Night Football theme better than ESPN's baseball theme. But the baseball theme (by Clark Gault I believe) has been around longer and is more synonymous with its sport, so I gave it the slight edge.
10. MLB on ESPN
Here's one I'd love to have back. Written by Bob Christenson, if you grew up watching hockey on ESPN in the 90s, this song brings back fond memories.
9. NHL on ESPN
NBC actually has two themes they use for their coverage of Wimbledon: a stately opening theme, and a mellow closing theme.
The opening theme, written by Clark Gault, is better. It just sounds so classy.
That said, the closing theme, written by Keith Mansfield, is still solid:
8. Wimbledon Theme (NBC Version)
As I mentioned earlier, all (or at least most) of Fox's sports themes were written by Scott Schreer.
Schreer doesn't work for Fox, though. He works for BMI. And among his other major credits is the theme song for the Cosby Show.
7. NFL on Fox
CBS's college basketball theme was written in 1993 by Bob Christianson. It's been the theme song of college basketball ever since. It's just about perfect.
6. CBS College Basketball Theme
I guess I'm cheating a little bit here. All the other sports theme songs are from actual broadcasts. But come on, every sports fan in America has this song burned into his or her brain. How could I exclude it?
So who wrote the SportsCenter theme? The original composition was byJohn Colby. However, somewhere along the line a Yamaha composer named Annie Roboff also earned a writing credit.
5. SportsCenter Theme
This song is to 1990s basketball fans what the NHL on ESPN theme was to 1990 hockey fans. Sadly, it's not been heard on the airwaves since NBC stopped broadcasting NBA games in 2002.
Now, are you ready to have this song forever ruined? Okay, here it goes: the NBA on NBC theme is called "Roundball Rock," and it was written by John Tesh:
Haha, nobody has answering machines anymore John Tesh.
4. NBA on NBC
Canada is hockey, and in Canada hockey is The Hockey Night in Canada theme song. Written by Dolores Claman in 1968, the song has been called the other Canadian National Anthem. In fact, if some member of Parliament proposed just replacing O Canada with the HNIC song, the majority of Canadians probably wouldn't object.
Of course, the HNIC theme song isn't actually the HNIC theme song anymore. The CBC only had the rights to the song for 50 years, and they expired in 2008. By then, the song had become so popular that the publicly funded broadcaster couldn't afford the rights any more, so they got scooped up by Bel Media for use on TSN's hockey broadcasts.
This move by Bell outraged some Canadian hockey fans. However, the last laugh is on Bell. Last year Rogers Communications swooped in and bought all the NHL right in Canada. Now Bell owns the most famous hockey theme song in the world, but they don't get to play it before games that anybody cares about.
3. Hockey Night in Canada (Original)
Remember when I said there was another sports theme song on this list by John Williams? Well, this is it. Williams wrote "Olympic Theme and Fanfare" for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. It was later combined with "Bugler's Dream" by French-American composer Leo Arnaud, which had been used as the Olympic theme on ABC and NBC since 1968.
So the "buuuuuh, buuuuuh, buh buh, buuh, buuh" part? That's Araud. The "dadada da daa da dadada dadada da daa da" is Williams.
You followed that, right?
2. Bugler's Dream/Olympic Theme and Fanfare
The official name of the Monday Night Football theme is "Heavy Action," which is awesome.
But are you ready to have your mind blown now? "Heavy Action" wasn't written for Monday Night Football. It was written in 1970 by a British composer named Johnny Pearson for the BBC. ABC only acquired the rights to the song for MNF in 1975.
Thus, the most American sports song of all time is actually British.