Photo by Ruben Leija on Unsplash | sports and music
Photo by Ruben Leija on Unsplash

The World Cup is upon us. The quadrennial event is soccer’s biggest stage, and, as soccer is the world’s most popular sport, the world is pumped up and excited (even if they left the United States out) (it was our fault) (good luck England though for our English readers). What’s more, with every new World Cup, there comes an official song.

It’s a breezy, vaguely inspirational anthem from Puerto Rican artist Nicky Jam, Kosovar up-and-comer Era Istrefi, and… wait, is Will Smith rapping again? (As long as it keeps him away from EDM.) It’s probably not going to reach the dizzying heights of Shakira’s “Waka Waka,” but it’s definitely cut from the same cloth.

But it makes you stop and consider something else too: Why? Why do all these sporting events need songs? What exactly is the confluence of sports and music (mildly pleasing music anyways)? It’s not a phenomenon limited to the World Cup either. The Olympics does it too. Here’s the one from this past Winter Olympics:

And here’s the Sunday Night Football theme done by Carrie Underwood that’s seared into my brain:

(By the way NBC, did you not think people would notice you switched out Faith Hill for Carrie Underwood a few years ago? Not cool.)

Famous names, not terribly strong efforts, but dare I say, I almost feel inspired to run around and kick/throw things. I also feel very proud to be alive and close to my fellow world citizens (or fellow ‘Muricans, in the football case). Maybe I am getting swept up in these songs.

In fact, while they may be a bit manufactured (or very manufactured in the case of the Coca-Cola anthems, you know he was ashamed of that one because he didn’t say/sing his name), music has always been an integral part of sports. It certainly is for the athletes, like the time-honored traditions of the clubhouse DJ and the walk-up music. It is for the fans, whether it’s a borrowed song like “Theme from New York, New York” after Yankees wins or “Sweet Caroline” at Red Sox games (please stop and let me enjoy that song), or an original tune like so many theme songs that soccer fans hoarsely scream in bars, in stadiums, and at their favorite club team.

Much like sports brings out our irrational mind, so does music, and so music has the ability to help stir our emotions, passions, and energies, whether or not we’re on the field ourselves or desperately pulling for those who are.

Sports kind of have a soundtrack of their own and often these “official anthems” try and tap into that and end up making somewhat of a pale imitation. But when a sports/music connection emerges naturally, you find that at the meetings of sports and music, there is the passion of fans.