While music and sport are not generally talked about in the same sentence, there are historic connections between two of modern culture's biggest realms of influence.
Even as modern day basketball stars such as Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Alan Iverson record their rap albums in an attempt to formalize a crossover between sport and music, it's hardly a first for mixing the two.
Indeed, as early as the 1930s and 1940s, evidence existed that there was a natural connection. Jump bands, for example, often toured on the same bus as basketball teams, players and musicians fraternizing to the point of attending the other's events.
A look at the rhythm associated with sports like basketball and music provides one similarity between the two, but so does the sense that in both music and sports, there are individuals (soloists) that excel while remaining a part of a larger, cohesive group.
At sporting events such as baseball or hockey games, in cities such as Dallas, Houston and Austin, music is often used to rile up crowds, not only during the game itself but also in pre-game festivities. Some of the songs, such as "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men, first became popular in sports stadiums, the tune eventually being named the number one sports anthem of all time by MTV. The phenomenon was driven by music distributor Pro Sports Marketing delivering the single to minor league baseball stadiums and other sporting arenas. Only later did the song make it to regular airplay by radio stations, a reflection of its popularity as a background song to games.
Music is also used to hold the attention of audiences at sporting events, notable examples being high school football halftimes or the Super Bowl. Other observers point to the idea of musical acts using sports stadiums as a venue for concerts, at least symbolically making the connection to athletic competition.
The connection between sports and music is arguably as strong as ever, especially with major sports events embracing the concept. One example is the band New Order's first number-one hit, "World in Motion," which became the official theme for the finals of the English World Cup.
Some say athletes themselves embrace music to the point where their performance is in large part dependent on the connection.
One way music may aid performance in sport and exercise is in the narrowing of a performer's attention, which could divert attention away from sensations of fatigue. The idea (marathon runners and triathletes refer to it as "dissociation") tends to promote a positive mood state.
Because music is said to alter arousal levels, some believe it can be used, either as a form of stimulant before a competition or as a sedative to calm over-anxious athletes. The connection to rhythm and human movement can also promote increased levels of output among those engaged in sporting activity, the idea being a kind of metronome that could propel an athlete to go faster and harder than might otherwise occur without music being present.
Music is said to inspire superior performance, although personal taste seems to be the order of the day. An example: classical music might not be thought of as a booster to sporting performance, but it might to fans of classical music.
Some scientists say listening to the right kind of music could improve performance in sport by as much as 20%. The difference in personal musical tastes when it comes to working out is underscored by the use of headphones in gyms where the control of the environment can aid performance.
While fans of rock music might want to listen to Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" as they do light exercise, a more vigorous version of "Keep on Running" by the Spencer Davis Group or "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf might be more appropriate.
Companies associated with music, recognizing that technology is impacting the traditional business model, are looking to further integrate music with sport, the idea being to find ways of promoting artists.
There is also evidence of the integration of music in sports through video games, even to the point where bands are taking it to a new level (the Bare Naked Ladies appeared in at least one Electronics Arts Sports games, NHL 2002, two months before the release of the band's "All Their Greatest Hits" album).
As music continues to share an important place in modern day culture, it's also clear that sports is one of those icons as well. Little wonder then that the two continue to be closely linked.
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