Sport Heritage Review

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Sporting Sounds

As every academic has experienced, there are times when a publication that is potentially important to our research escapes our attention, particularly one that was released several years ago.  Such was the case this morning when my Twitter feed introduced me to the book, Sporting Sounds: Relationships Between Sport and Music edited by Anthony Bateman and John Bale.  The description of the text from the Routledge website:

Music and sport are both highly significant cultural forms, yet the substantial and longstanding connections between the two have largely been overlooked. Sporting Sounds addresses this oversight in an intriguing and innovative collection of essays.

With contributions from leading international psychologists, sociologists, historians, musicologists and specialists in sports and cultural studies, the book illuminates our understanding of the vital part music has played in the performance, reception and commodification of sport. It explores a fascinating range of topics and case studies, including:

  • The use of music to enhance sporting performance
  • Professional applications of music in sport
  • Sporting anthems as historical commemorations
  • Music at the Olympics
  • Supporter rock music in Swedish sport
  • Caribbean cricket and calypso music

From local fan cultures to international mega-events, music and sport are inextricably entwined. Sporting Sounds is a stimulating and illuminating read for anybody with an interest in either of these cultural forms.

I will admit, having just “discovered” the book today I do not yet know whether it is an insightful collection (though, given the reputation of the editors, I imagine it is fantastic!)  However, the subject of this book got me thinking about the relationship between music and sport heritage, and how this might be an overlooked topic in sport heritage research.

Anecdotally, I can think of many areas where music and sport heritage overlap.  Of course, the most obvious are national anthems that, particularly in North America and in most international competitions, are still part and parcel of the pre-game ritual.  The other that comes immediately to mind are the songs sung by fans at football matches which, of course, represent a kind of traditional knowledge.  The debate in Canada a few years back, where the traditional theme of Hockey Night in Canada (also known as Canada’s “other” national anthem) on CBC was changed, certainly demonstrates something of the sport heritage/music connection.  Heck, my friends and I used to bet when they’d play the ubiquitous song Cotton Eyed Joe at hockey games, so familiar was it to our sporting experiences.  Indeed, my former students at Clemson wax nostalgically about the rituals and meanings they associated with a song called “Zombie Nation“.  In short, I’m rather kicking myself something so obvious, and so clearly a part of the sport heritage experience as music, escaped my attention – though, I must admit that this “discovery” is rather exciting!  I guess I must open my ears as well as my eyes! 🙂


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