There’s no denying that being at a sports game is so much better than watching it on TV. But why? You’re watching the same entertainment… cheering on the same teams… but there’s something about the atmosphere at the event that you simply can’t replicate through a TV. And though there are many different factors that create this atmosphere, the sound is the one that carries the most impact.
It’s recently been reported that this year’s Rugby World Cup has been the loudest yet, and fans and players from every country have been filling Japan’s stadiums with the noises of their homeland. Made infamous by its intimidating nature, the All Blacks’ perform their haka undeterred, even in front of some away fans that are either known to blast out a Welsh hymn or two, or a warbled edition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Music never fails to fill the stadium before a pass is completed. And right now, the hosts have taken this in their stride, bringing their own cultural twist to the soundscape. Opening the World Cup with a choir, the rumbling taiko traditional drums in the stands accompany the popular half and full-time gong – as well as the Freddie Mercury-inspired raucous chants of “day-oh”. They’ve connected the dots when it comes to fan engagement and music – and made it successful.
They’re not the only ones who’ve caught on that sound is the heart of any sporting event. Harking back to Britain’s amazing summer of sport, England’s Lionesses dominated at the Women’s World Cup, and behind them all the way was their emphatic home crowd. And brands took full advantage. Sporting staple Lucozade adapted the popular footballing anthem of Three Lions to feature the women’s team and their journey, in a spoken work rendition that’s full of fight. The tension grows within the ad, mimicking the same feeling of suspense as a goal is scored. Turning a fun, almost comic song, into a piece of poetry changes the aural reception – same words, different response.
And it’s response that’s at the root of it all. Anger at a decision, empathy at a tackle, sheer joy at a goal – and that doesn’t just come from a packed stadium of 80,000. You could be stood on the freezing side-lines of a local league game, still cheering, still singing, still feeling the same joy and excitement. But organisers aren’t worried about enjoyment. They safely count on one thing – that small crowd will be loud. How loud? Not as loud as some, but the excitement will still be heard by those outside. In Peru, the Estadio Nacional took this literally, and created a spectacular light show through the cheering, singing and chatter of the crowd. With special microphones, every sound was picked up, and was broadcast for everyone to see.
Joining music with sport is the instinctual response that speaks to audiences across the generations, no matter where they are in the world, or what they’re watching. Whether you’re country-proud at the Rugby World Cup… cheering for your home team in the football leagues… or enjoying a day out with the family at an American soccer or baseball game, the sweeping tide of sound, filled with the synergies of shared values – passion, teamwork, togetherness and integrity – creates something special. Music can pull together a crowd of casual spectators, families, everyone right up to the avid fans. Around the globe, sport is harmonising community spirit in a way that culminates in a loud, musical response – bringing together every soul on the terraces.