My Top-10 Sports Jingles of All Time

I love many TV jingles for sports. These are the instrumental pieces that open broadcasts and take us into commercials. To me, a good jingle can make an average game feel good and can make a good game feel great. Additionally, there is a symbiotic relationship between sporting events and their jingles. The more great moments with which I associate a jingle, the greater the jingle seems to me. I love jingles, and I have even been known to download some to put on my running playlists. There is great motivational power in a great jingle. Therefore, I have decided I would like to create a countdown of my 10 favorite sports jingles of all time.

10) NBC Olympic Theme: Would I call myself an “Olympic enthusiast”? That might be a step too far, but I do enjoy the Olympics enough. The fact that the event happens only once every four years in the winter and summer adds to the gravitas of the event, as does the John Williams intro., whose link I have provided. This triumphant piece evokes memories of Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Sarah Hughes, and so many other Olympic stars while also reminding me of John Williams’ classic movie themes; such as “Indiana Jones”, “E.T.”, and “Star Wars”.

NBC Olympic broadcasts - Wikipedia

9) NHL on NBC: It took me years to warm up to this theme, as I loved the ESPN NHL theme (which we put to bed in 2004) so very very much. However, in 2012, “Henrique, It’s Over!!!” gave me pure euphoria and increased my love for the NBC jingle. Throw in the fact that I now associate this jingle not only with this joyous moment in Devils history but also Doc Emrick, my favorite announcer of all time, and this jingle is now in my good graces.

8) ESPN Baseball Tonight: This is one of only three jingles on the list that has consistently been in my life since 1990, when I was in second grade. In the early ‘90s, I watched ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” religiously, and this was ESPN’s glory days. In that hour-long show, I could see the highlights of every baseball game from that night or the previous night. Moreover, the jingle also accompanies ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball”, which used to be a big deal. At its inception in 1990, each MLB team was granted three Sunday-night games, and there was no flex scheduling. Whenever I would hear that jingle and hear the classic voices of announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, I knew that a game was a big deal. Thus, I have many happy memories of this theme that remains in use today.

7) NBC SNF Theme: It might be heretical to say, but I actually wish there were no Sunday Night Football. By the end of RedZone’s touchdown montage, I have usually had my fill of football for a Sunday. That said, every Sunday Night Football game is a huge deal. The game is always a great matchup, and, in the second half of the season, each game has huge playoff implications. This theme music makes me think of modern Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, one of the best two NFL announcing duos (tied for me with Nantz/Romo), and so many classic games – Jacob Hollister coming up one inch short and Miles Austin losing the ball in the lights to save what would become the Giants’ 2011 championship season, to name two.

6) MLB on FOX: No, not the “NFL on FOX” theme. Several years ago, FOX stopped using this great MLB theme song and started using the “NFL on FOX” theme for baseball. I was not happy about it. I am still not happy about it. I am OCD about my music. I still like listening to full albums of music; I have Elton John’s music organized into 7 different chronological periods of career, and each of those lists is chronologically arranged itself. I do not like listening to a song if I plan to listen to it while running later that day. Anyway, I do not expect to FOX to pay for me to go to therapy, but FOX could have thrown me a frickin’ bone and left the football music about of baseball. Even the best things in life are best served in moderation. The NFL theme is an all-time great, but the MLB one was solid too. Aaron Boone’s homer, the Dave Roberts steal, Albert Pujols’s monstrous homer off Brad Lidge, and so many more classic MLB-playoff moments of the 1990s, 2000s, and early 2010s occurred under the MLB-specific jingle. Now, every time a FOX MLB game goes to a commercial with the football music, I am waiting for Troy Aikman to say, “You’re absolutely right, Joe.” FOX, why did you have to do me like that?

FOX MLB | Fox Sports PressPass
Image via FOX MLB

5) MNF Theme: This one also dates back to my 1990 origins as a sports fan. 3rd-grade Mike would beg my parents to let me stay up to hear the theme music of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and the ensuing Hank Williams Jr. “Are You Ready for Some Football?” I would have to go to bed immediately thereafter, but I could watch some of the game on tape the next morning before school. I also associate this theme with Al Michaels, who did MNF back then with Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf. That theme music and those announcers evoke memories of Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, and all of the greats from my formative years as an NFL fan. Thankfully, ESPN has kept this theme with “Monday Night Football”. Even though Sunday night now grabs the marquee game, the “Monday Night Football” music remains legendary.

4) NFL on FOX: Even though I did not want this jingle to move to baseball, this theme is an all-time great. It is incredibly powerful and triumphant, and, if you have never sung this theme and transitioned it directly into the “Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let’s go” part of “Sleigh Ride”, then you clearly are not a real football fan…or a real Christmas fan. Anyway, this theme has been a major part of my autumn Sundays since FOX started broadcasting the NFL in 1994, while I was in 7th grade. I will always get chills when I listen to it.

3) NHL on ESPN: As the Devils dominated the NHL from 1993 through 2004 and won three Cups and lost a Final in Game 7, ESPN had the bulk of the coverage. Thus, this theme is synonymous with my most glorious of glory days as a sports fan. While Doc Emrick is my all-time favorite announcer; Gary Thorne, ESPN’s primary NHL announcer back then, also was fantastic and emotional. This theme music and Thorne were involved with Jason Arnott’s OT Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2000. Thus, this jingle is a case of a great jingle of which I grew fonder because of great moments.

2) NBA on NBC: Actually, “The Last Dance” inspired me to create this list. I have never been a huge NBA guy, but I watched much more of the NBA playoffs in the 1990s than in the decades since. Plus, I watched the 1990s NBA Finals very religiously. Thus, when I think of Michael Jordan’s six championships, the Rockets’ two titles, and (of course) the OJ Simpson “Bronco Chase” that pre-empted Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals (Knicks/Rockets); I think of this John Tesh theme, officially known as “Roundball Rock”. Plus, this theme receives bonus points for this hidden-gem SNL skit involving Vince Vaughn, Jason Sudeikis, the Teshes, and “Roundball Rock”.

1) NCAA Basketball on CBS Theme: This is the gold standard in sports jingles. At a jingle party, when the “CBS NCAA Theme” jingle enters the room, everyone stops talking and just watches and listens in awe. The theme has undergone multiple iterations since I first heard it in 1990. The theme has made its way onto TNT’s, TBS’s, and TruTV’s Tournament coverage in recent years. This theme is the sound of spring’s arrival. This song is about Valparaiso beating Ole Miss at the buzzer; it is about Virginia shockingly falling to UMBC in a #1-#16 matchup and then winning the championship in epic fashion the following season; it is about a Hampton player carrying ecstatic and victorious coach Frank Merfeld onto the floor; it is about Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison bawling his eyes out while sprawled out on the court; and (why not?) it is about Rutgers winning the 2021 championship a year after presumptively punching its first NCAA ticket in 30 years…for a tournament that did not happen. Of course, this theme music is also the sound of Thin Mints in my freezer, Spring Training, opening the car and house windows for the first time, and the sun finally not setting in the afternoon. It is a jingle of joy and rebirth. It is the “King of Jingles” (patent pending).

CBS announces March Madness schedule
Image via WTVY

Of course, where do I go now that I have discussed the “King”? There is nowhere to go but down, so I will wrap things up here. I hope that you all enjoyed my jingle rankings and this trip down memory lane.

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