Sports and music

By Kelly Johnson

How many people know who Gary Glitter is?

Would you know if his hit song, “Rock and Roll (Part 2),” blared through the speakers leading into a timeout after the home basketball team nailed a three-point shot in the last few seconds of a game?

If you are a sports fan, chances are your fist would pump and follow Mr. Glitter’s recognizable chants of “hey,” during the chorus of his infamous sports anthem. Other songs such as “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” by Steam and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor have found extended longevity in sport stadiums.

“My little brother plays hockey, so sometimes my family and I go to Badger games up in Wisconsin,” said Kelly Kelso, a junior member of NIU’s women soccer team. “[Rock and Roll (Part 2)] is played during the warm-ups. I think the sports venue makes it more popular – in the stands it really gets people going.”

Sports and music go hand in hand. Music can be heard booming over the speakers at the BMX stunt bike competition or blasting onto the courts at a local three-on-three basketball tournament.

The rhythm and tempo of a carefully coordinated touchdown play or a gold-medal figure skating performance generate the excitement congruent to a ringing guitar chord or pounding bass beat. Athletes harness this power of music to supplement their particular mood.

ESPN began cashing in on this trend years ago with its “Jock Jams” compilations.

“Before games I don’t listen to anything but rap because the beats are usually fast and the lyrics are raw, especially the new 50 Cent,” said Stephanie Raymond, a sophomore member of NIU’s women’s basketball team.

Kelso expresses similar tastes regarding pre-game music, but warned to be cautious when dealing of its power.

“[The music] definitely has to have a beat,” Kelso said. “Although sometimes the music for warm-ups can be bad if the players are singing and dancing too much.”

Not only does music have the effect of inducing adrenaline, it also has the opposite effect of relaxation.

“After games I usually listen to some slow R&B because it calms me down and gets my mind off of basketball,” Raymond said.

As technology increases, music has created a presence in so many facets of society that it has permeated its way into our recollection of feelings. You can turn on the television and hear your favorite band’s song and see the accompanying music video. You can program thousands of songs into a handheld electronic device and listen to music wherever you go. The fast-paced world of sports was bound to utilize this growing cross-pollination of music.

Capitalizing on this trend is the idea of “extreme” or “alternative” sports. Intense events including skateboarding, BMX and snowboarding are more often than not coupled with extreme music. Some events have included the Extreme Thing Sports/Music Festival and MTV Sports and Music Festival. A half-pipe is often used for skateboards and bikers while a live band plays a concert.

Patrick Gorman, coordinator/director of Video Board Operations at the Convocation Center, has experience providing music and video for sports events. Before coming to the Convo three years ago, Gorman worked as video board operator for the Chicago White Sox.

“I remember going to a Bears game years back,” Gorman said. “They probably played about six songs during the game. When I would hear those songs on the radio you remember the feeling you had at the game.”

Video may be the latest trend to sweep the world of sports. Gorman said NIU is using highlight footage and editing in music to play during games.

“About 10 minutes before a game we throw up highlight video to get the crowd into it,” Gorman said. “We take the highlight reels and edit it to music. We did ‘Check It Out’ by the Beastie Boys this year. We are even using [highlight video] during games now, and it’s gone over well for the crowds, especially during time-outs.”

With technology changing more rapidly than the Chicago Bulls record, new forums will always be explored with music and sports. One thing is certain however, Gary Glitter will always have a space in the sports and music pantheon, and more importantly, the true sports fan’s heart.