It’s the debate sports fans don’t have enough, probably because no one has taken me up on the genius idea of opening a high-end dive bar that only plays sports theme songs on TVs at a very high volume. John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” is the holy grail, but there are plenty of other slept-on gems that we don’t appreciate enough. Here’s one person’s attempt at a top 10 ranking of sports theme songs:
10. NFL on NBC
This “NFL on NBC” rendition from Randy Edelman ran from 1995 to 1997, and it remains the network’s best version to date. The track starts with a perfectly soothing vibe that perfectly prepares you for three hours of watching a bunch of grown men put their bodies at risk and wow, football is really morbid these days isn’t it? Honestly, any football theme song that makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a Disney movie works for me. Shouts to Randy Edelman and apologies to Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood
NFL on CBS
On the flip side, the “NFL on CBS” theme sends you into straight into a Roman Colosseum and makes you want to throw on Gladiator, put on some football pads, and run down the field to tackle five people on a kickoff return. Honourable mentions goes to the “NFL on FOX” theme but mainly I just want everyone to know that Cleatus a.k.a. The NFL on FOX robot has his own LEGO mini-series on YouTube!!!
8. NBA on TNT
The “NBA on TNT” theme was the comfort food of sports themes for the longest time, especially after you spent an entire evening watching a doubleheader, and then the theme song comes on and you realize you get another hour of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith bantering about the night’s highlights and lowlights until 2 in the morning. Over time, this has become an iconic theme song, even if the panel appears past their prime as a group.
7. MLB on FOX
It’s unclear what the scientific explanation is, but the “MLB on FOX” theme song paired with the image of a stud ace-pitcher putting on his jacket as he finishes his pre-game warm-up in the bullpen and proceeding to walk towards the dugout has always worked wonders for me. Also, this song will forever be synonymous with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, which, seriously, that’s when you know you probably watched way too much sports growing up.
6. CBS College Basketball
You could argue that Future’s “March Madness” should become the official theme song for the NCAA tournament, or that “One Shining Moment” is the more iconic song, and you would probably have a case for both, but the CBS College Basketball theme is a reminder every sports calendar year that March Madness is here, and that spring is here, and that you need to fill out a bracket for your office pool, and that all of those are beautiful things.
5. HBO’s Hard Knocks
Maybe the most underrated track on this entire list, the David Robidoux composed classic for HBO’s Hard Knocks sounds like something straight out of a Hans Zimmer collaboration, like can we put this track over the bank robbery scene that opens The Dark Knight? Paired with the beautiful voice of Liev Schreiber narrating and we’ve got ourselves a very under-appreciated classic.
4. Hockey Night in Canada
The Hockey Night in Canada theme song is a Canadian institution, up there with Swiss Chalet and Bulk Barn. I prefer any song that doesn’t immediately make me think of Don Cherry’s suits, but is there any theme that evokes more sports memories in Canada than this? You cannot hear this song without remembering all of the heartbreak the Toronto Maple Leafs have put you through. That’s powerful music.
3. ABC’s Monday Night Football
If there’s an American equivalent to “Hockey Night in Canada,” it would have to be the O.G. ABC “Monday Night Football” theme song. You can’t help but get flashbacks to the classic Monday night football games (yes, I am old enough to remember when there used to be great football games on Mondays) you grew up watching, all the fantasy match-ups you lost on Monday because your running back couldn’t get the 28 yards you needed. Another all-time classic that definitely belongs in the top three.
2. NBC Olympics
The NBC “Olympics” theme by Leo Arnaud is an all-time banger for bandwagon Olympics fans (if you really think about it, aren’t we all bandwagon Olympics fans?) like myself. It’s like the sports theme song version of the national anthem.
1. NBA on NBC
John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” a.k.a. the “NBA on NBC” theme song should have its own Hall of Fame. There’s no sports theme song that will ever top it as number one on this list, and that’s very high praise worthy of an all-time classic. It’s rare that you can toss around such hyperbole without feeling slimy on the Internet. But, yes, this is the best sports theme song of all-time, period. Close thread.