From baseball’s walk-up songs to college marching bands, music and sports seem pretty much inseparable: they’re two of the most popular forms of live entertainment in the United States, so it only makes sense to mesh the two together.

Here’s a look at some of the best examples of that cultural mish-mash.

Music Sets the Tone

The overhead spotlights are dim, replaced by the flicker of tens of thousands of glittering camera flashes. Music thrums in the background, the anticipation building exponentially with the electronic pulse of Darude’s “Sandstorm” or the thudding bass pedal of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

The music reaches a fever pitch, cutting out just before the kickoff takes place, a perfect segue into the action. The Super Bowl, America’s biggest sporting event year in and year out, is underway. That scene plays out across hundreds of games in college and the NFL each year, but it reaches its peak during the Super Bowl, the swelling music standing in for the heartbeat of an entire nation.


Most sporting events don’t allow music during the action; instead, they wait for timeouts or the breaks between individual plays so that the athletes are able to operate unencumbered by anything but the crowd noise. Instead, these tunes set the tone ahead of time, whether it’s in the moments leading up to kickoff or in sports like baseball, where a player chooses one of their favorite songs as walk-up music, getting an entire stadium full of people to sing along with them.

At times, walk-up music has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right, like when Gerardo Parra chose “Baby Shark” in honor of his young daughter. The song became a rallying cry of the entire team as they went on a miraculous postseason run after starting the season as one of the worst teams in the league, winning the first World Series title in the history of the Washington Nationals in spite of impossible odds at Fanatics Sportsbook.

Another viral walk-up song is Bryson Stott’s “A-O-K,” which gets the entire crowd singing along at Phillies games.

Other uses of music to gear up before an event include the National Anthem: while it can be a controversial topic these days, the pomp and ceremony help create a festive atmosphere, and many sports leagues are taking steps to be inclusive, performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” commonly known as the ‘Black National Anthem,’ ahead of major games.

Marching Bands

I’m not the biggest fan of marching bands myself, generally preferring the polished sound of a prerecorded track, but collegiate marching bands and the color guards that go with them have an undeniable charm that makes them an integral part of any game day experience.

Whether they’re playing a school’s alma mater or fight song or doing an instrumental cover of modern pop music—Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” is a big hit amongst lots of college bands—the brassy tones do a great job of creating an atmosphere that is unique to each college.


Some of the best college marching band experiences you can possibly take in are the ones at Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs. These marching bands come with extra showmanship, as they’re often accompanied by talented dance or drill teams run by historically black fraternities and sororities. It’s an under-appreciated slice of American culture and definitely one that should be explored.

The Seventh Inning Stretch

The seventh-inning stretch is the quintessential example of how music and sports intersect in America. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” written by Jack Norworth during New York’s Tin Pan Alley era of music in the early 1900s, has become the unofficial anthem for American baseball.

The song is played during the break between the top and bottom of the seventh inning at every Major League Baseball game and often worked into the lineup during other levels of the sport—no matter if it’s little league, high school, or college ball.

It gives fans a chance to stand up and stretch their legs, singing along in unison to the lyrics and root, root, rooting for the home team. The song is passed down from parents to children, a staple of America’s pastime and a perfect example of how music and sporting culture go hand in hand.

Recent additions to the seventh inning stretch include a rendition of “God Bless America,” often sung during Sunday afternoon games immediately following “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” an initiative begun during the wave of patriotic fervor that overtook the United States in the period following the September 11 attacks.