"Get Ready for This": Music, Ritual and the Big Game

How often does anyone get to use photos from a bobsled competition? - Christof Koepsel

Music creates a connection between fans and players, pros and amateurs.

You won't see a shot of a dressing room these days that doesn't feature players scrolling through playlists on their iPods and Beats By Dr. Dre headphones were seemingly part of athletes' uniforms at this summer's Olympic Games.

But we get ready for games the same way. We listen to our iPods before we take the ice for our high school match or our beer league game. We blast Guns N' Roses in the car on the way to arenas and stadiums. We hum the same song every week as we walk to meet friends before the big game. The soundtracks we give our games become entrenched in our experience of them.

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When we go to a game we hear intro music blast out from the speakers as players' skates hit the ice. When the home team scores, a goal song blares and we celebrate. There are songs for penalties and power plays. A short musical phrase can signal a shift in momentum on the ice. A blaring goal horn matches the euphoria fans feel with the sudden release of energy that comes with a winning-goal in overtime.

Some times, a song becomes so associated with a certain team it becomes part of the traditions of that fan base. While associated with the occasional playoff run, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is most often associated with the Red Wings. Being at the Joe, as the third period comes to a close and the hometown crowd belts out the line "born and raised in south Detroit" is something special. Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" has played in countless arenas and stadiums but she sang for Philadelphia. When she sang, the Flyers won and they loved her for it.

Some of the best songs in sports are loved by some and loathed by everyone else. Goal songs help the crowd celebrate and if played frequently enough, irritate the opposition. The Chicago Blackhawks' goal song "Chelsea Dagger" rings out after each goal and win, so much so that even Roberto Luongo claims he likes the catchy tune. Canadiens fans serenade the opposition with "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" at ever earlier intervals to the irritation of everyone else.

Our victory rituals have soundtracks. When the clock runs out or the last out is recorded, Queen is cranked-up and "We Are the Champions" plays as souvenir hats are passed around, trophies are handed out, and champagne is poured. It's as if Freddie Mercury is announcing to the sporting world that your team has made it.

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We bring much of the game home, the excitement and the heartache of every moment lingers and the music loops.

The nostalgia with which many of us fondly remember the many installments of NHL video games stretching back to the early 90s is in part because of the music. Those games were defined by whether or not fighting was included and the introduction of the one timer but also by the catchy menu music which would burn its way into your memory and stick in your head hours into game play.

This post is for Mark Parisi, Silver Seven's resident pump-up artist. One of the things I miss most because of the lockout is Mark's GDTs. Not only are his previews informative and funny, he always chimes in with a pump-up song in the comment section. As hilarious as they are random, these songs have become part of the fabric of our community, part of the traditions of our blog.

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We daydream about the moment we step onto the ice or into the batter's box, pull a jersey over our heads, or put a helmet on. But those daydream moments don't occur in silence. They are carefully choreographed routines in which the music plays a starring role. As fans we think about what music would serve as our introduction, what songs would play during our triumphs, what sounds would accompany a montage of an often dreamed of career.

My pump-up music is inspired by the music I first heard going to AHL and OHL games as a little kid. "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Thunderstruck" were contemporary songs that fit the arena atmosphere. Older songs like "Raise a Little Hell" added to the mood. Even hearing that song as part of a soup/cracker commercial makes me want the Sens to go out and get a win. For many of us, the song we would choose to announce our presence in the game are simply our favourites all the time.

For me, my favourites begin and end with Bruce Springsteen. I rotate through his catalogue frequently, but right now my intro music would be the intro and chorus of "Badlands", the intro and chorus of "The Promise Land" would be my goal song, and "Drive All Night" would be my montage song. Perfect sports songs? No, but perfect for me.

What are your pump-up songs? Which songs would you choose as you're introduced to adoring fans? What kind of music blares when you score a goal? What songs do you celebrate with?

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