The 10 Best TV Sports Themes of the Past 20 Years
It's the first thing viewers usually hear when tuning into a sporting event on TV.
Even before Brent Musberger announces that viewers "are looking live," Jim Nantz says hello to millions of "friends" or Joe Buck welcomes fans to the broadcast booth, music that becomes almost instantly iconic is played—the true sign that it is, indeed, game time.
It's an art lost on almost all television programs (except for the nightly news) and should be recognized, so in no particular order, here are 10 of the best television sports themes of all time.
Honorable Mention: Jay-Z Featuring E.S. Posthumus, 2010 Super Bowl XLIV on CBS
I'd put this somewhere in the top five of this list, but this particular version of the NFL on CBS theme was only used once—at the start of the network's coverage of Super Bowl XLIV last February.
For a network known for mostly low-key pieces, it was jarring to see Jay-Z's 2009 hit "Run This Town" integrated with "Posthumus Zone," used by the Eye Network since 2003.
However, the combination worked to perfection, and it's hard not to listen to this tune over and over again.
Honorable Mention: BCS/College Football on Fox, 2007-2010
This theme may be the best college football intro used by any network and probably the only good thing about Fox's short reign as the television home of the Bowl Championship Series.
The marching band-like drums give way to a powerful orchestral section, assisted by some impressive computer graphics on the video end of things.
While Fox lost the BCS rights' battle to ESPN this season, this theme will not return for the network's airing of the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, 2011. Instead, the network will use the NFL on Fox theme, now implemented on all Fox Sports properties.
MLB on Fox, 1996-2007
Speaking of Fox, two of their MLB on Fox theme songs find a place on this list.
The network's first baseball theme is simply amazing—a guitar-heavy piece that became the signature tune of baseball for an entire generation.
In the 11 years of this song's existence, the Yankees returned to prominence, the Red Sox "reversed the curse" and Steve Bartman placed a new hex upon the Cubs.
MLB All-Star Game/World Series on Fox, 2007-2009
Fox introduced this theme in 2007, along with a revised version of its regular jingle, for use in its postseason and All-Star Game telecasts.
In its time it was the best theme in all of sports, as it is an orchestral piece that sounds like it could be used in a film about baseball—"the way it used to be."
It's hard not to get chills hearing this.
Fox retired this in favor of the NFL on Fox theme starting with the 2010 National League Championship Series.
NFL on NBC, 1995-97
Composed by Randy Edelman, this song was used in the final three seasons before NBC's nine-year hiatus from covering the NFL.
Much like the last theme, Edelman's tune sounds like it came straight out of a feature film, and it follows right in the footsteps of John Williams' Olympic theme used by the Peacock network.
Speaking of John Williams, his NFL on NBC theme would blow this one out of the water.
NBC Sunday Night Football, 2006-Present
The Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, known for his work in the Star Wars and Harry Potter films (just to name a few), composed the music package for NBC's return to coverage of the NFL in 2006.
While some would argue that it sounds too much like something from Star Wars, Williams' theme fits the game of football perfectly.
The theme was updated in 2009 for NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLIII, giving it more of a rock edge than before. It lost none of its luster in the process; in fact, the revised version is much-improved over the original.
NFL on Fox, 1994-Present/MLB on Fox, 2010-Present
It's probably best to let this theme speak for itself.
BCS/Saturday Night Football on ABC, 1998-Present
This is the only aspect of ABC Sports that remained once ESPN placed their branding upon its sister network and it may be the best theme regularly in use today.
Especially notable is the way this theme is used; most of the time, this music is associated with ESPN/ABC's top team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit. It seems to stress that the game being shown will be a big one.
ESPN Monday Night Football, 2006-Present
A faithful remake of the original theme, "Heavy Action," which had been in use since 1971.
There isn't much else to say. You've probably heard this before.
NBA on NBC, 1990-2002
John Tesh's "Roundball Rock," a theme still well-known eight years after NBC last televised an NBA game.
While ABC, ESPN and TNT have all tried to copy the former Entertainment Tonight host's formula to various levels of success, this song still persists as the theme of professional basketball in the United States, and rightfully so.
What are your thoughts on this list? Where did I go wrong? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.