Since television began, theme songs have helped us to identify our favorite programs. This is certainly the case in sports where the theme for Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Wide World of Sports, the Olympics, The Masters and others have become iconic.
I thought about writing a post on which themes should be the “official” one for each sport since Paulsen at Sports Media Watch suggested ESPN trade for NBC’s “Roundball Rock” which became so identifiable with the NBA in the 1990′s.
So in this post, I’m going to provide nominees for each sport from the various networks and have you vote on which one should be the “official” theme. Results will be released next Sunday.
Two examples of how themes are identified with sports. The Olympics on American television have been introduced with”Bugler’s Theme” composed by Leo Arnaud. Played originally on ABC’s coverage of the Olympics starting in 1968, it was purchased by NBC and used starting in 1992 all the way to the present.
Here’s Bugler’s Theme in its original version.
And this is the version used by NBC which is composed by John Williams combining “Bugler’s Theme” with “Olympic Fanfare” which was written for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
The Masters has its own theme that has been used on CBS and around the world. The theme’s name is “Augusta”.
Those are two examples of iconic sports theme tunes. Now let’s go through the nominees for each sport. There will be no more than three for each sport except for the NFL and NHL otherwise this post could get ridiculously long.
I have three nominees for Baseball.
This is ABC’s Monday Night Baseball theme from the late 1970′s and one of my all-time favorites.
Here’s the MLB on ESPN theme. This is the current incarnation.
And the MLB on Fox theme that was used from 1996 through 2010, then Fox decided to use its NFL theme for all sports.
CBS March Madness Theme recut for its partnership with Turner Sports.
NBC’s College Basketball Theme from the mid-1980′s. Yes, NBC once had college basketball, kids.
ESPN’s college basketball theme from 1995 through 2001.
The SEC on CBS theme first introduced for Super Bowl XXI and subsequently used on its college football coverage, first the old CFA package in the late 1980′s, brought back in 1996 when CBS came back into college football after losing the sport in the early 1990′s and has been used ever since.
ESPN’s present College Football theme.
ESPN’s old College Football theme used until 1999. I like this one better than the current theme.
Here’s the NBA on CBS theme used from 1982 until 1990 when it left the sport for good. This is a clean copy of its open utilized from 1982 through 1988. The black spots are for video and voiceover. One of my all-time favorites.
The current NBA on TNT theme as composed by Trevor Rabin.
And you can’t have an NBA theme poll without NBC’s Roundball Rock composed by John Tesh and considered by many as the best sports theme of all-time. I’m inclined to agree.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
We have four choices, one for each network.
This is known as the NFL on CBS “Pots and Pans” theme that was used from 1986 through 1988. I’ve preferred this theme over the others have been utilized since. And ignore the quality of the video, just listen to the theme. And it was called “Pots and Pans” because some fans thought it sounded like pots and pans banging.
The NFL on Fox theme, now the music used for all sports, originally composed in 1994.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football theme composed by John Williams. We’re not using the “I’ve Been Waiting All Day For Sunday Night” sung by Faith Hill for obvious reasons. Someone put a compilation of the current themes together. I like it.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football Heavy Action theme.
I’ll do five here.
The NHL on ESPN theme that was used through 2005.
How about the NHL on Fox theme that was used from 1995 through 1998? Here’s a compilation of the theme. You can still hear it on Fox Sports Net affiliates that carry the NHL locally.
Here’s the NHL on NBC theme that is currently being used. Different variation from its main theme, but you get the idea.
The Hockey Song by Stompin’ Tom Collins, probably the second most beloved hockey theme in Canada.
The old CBC Hockey Night in Canada theme which is now known as the Hockey Theme as it was purchased and now owned by TSN. Used since 1968.
We have three candidates for tennis.
The NBC Wimbledon theme which won’t be heard anymore as ESPN has the rights to the tournament.
When NBC was in the bad habit of tape delaying matches, I would find ways to watch BBC’s coverage which was always live. I got used to its Wimbledon theme and grew to like it.
And USA Network’s US Open theme music that we no longer hear unfortunately. Remember when USA actually had sports?
I don’t have a clean copy of ESPN’s tennis theme so the three we have will have to suffice.
Finally, we have the sports anthologies from the networks. This should be quite interesting to get your take. Anthology shows would put together various different events in one show, like track & field, barrel jumping, tennis or diving. ABC’s Wide World of Sports was the first of its kind on American television and then the other networks followed until the anthologies went extinct.
First, from across the pond, BBC’s Grandstand which was one of the longest running sports series on television. This ran until 2007. These are various opens from the 1990′s. This theme is catchy.
Here’s the open from the CBS Sports Spectacular from 1979 using Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
NBC had SportsWorld in the 1970′s and 1980′s. I like this music.
And the original that started it all in the U.S., ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The voiceover is from the late Jim McKay. This open is from 1984.
And that is going to do it. Vote and leave your comments on any omissions below.