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Burdell’s Bracket 2022: Sports Television Broadcast Theme Music

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Crowning a champion from among the sports fan’s top television sports intro and outro songs.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four Practice
The titular contest, as it pertains to basketball.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a year off for lack of having an idea that I was excited about and being inundated by graduate student work, we’re coming back this year with another Burdell’s Bracket. This time, we’re making an attempt to find the most excellent broadcast theme music in sports.


Background:

If you have been a regular reader of From the Rumble Seat over the past few years, you likely remember the past editions of the Burdell Bracket. Unfortunately, I have not been particularly inspired with a Tech-specific theme this year — past editions include Tech Buildings and Historic Figures — but I did settle on one that seems to inspire particularly passionate reactions among sports fans, that of their favorite television broadcast theme music.

Or, maybe I just listened to Spencer Hall’s cover of “One Shining Moment” a few too many times.

If you want to read my original long soliloquy about March Madness and specific sentimental connections to it, click here. If you want to skip to the voting — and I don’t blame you if you do — or are just confused why the SNL Roundball Rock skit hasn’t already been referenced, feel free to keep on scrolling down.

Methodology:

Once again, I made a bracket in Excel. I then found a bunch of sports themes. I thought I would find 64 (or 68) worthy entrants. I did not. So I cut the list to 32, which is also much more conducive in terms of “writing blurbs about largely lyric-less liminal space music,” which I also found was challenging. In the list of 32, a certain set of automatic qualifiers, if you will, were kept in order to maintain a broad range of representation, along with some of the classics. If your favorite isn’t there, well, I’d say there’s always next year, but who knows what the theme will be then. If you have suggestions, we are always open to those, as well.

Schedule and Bracket:

Burdell’s Bracket - 2022 - Sports Television Broadcast Theme Music
Jake Grant

Winner will be decided via the sum of polls embedded in the article and, new this year, the poll feature on Twitter. Today’s post will feature the first eight matchups of the first round, with the next eight coming later in the week on Friday. Next Wednesday will see the Sweet Sixteen followed by the Elite Eight next Friday. The bracket Final Four will drop the Friday before the men’s real-life Final Four, with the Championship coinciding with that game’s Monday.


#1 March Madness Theme (NCAA Basketball on CBS) vs. #32 NASCAR on NBC

#1: This theme not only perfectly matches its sport and context, but it is the theme song for an entire month of the sports calendar. Most Americans, let alone American sports fans, likely know exactly what this song is within the first two beats of it playing. It is also the song for the phenomenon that birthed this here fine format. Taking a page out of Jon Rothstein’s playbook, this theme, quite literally, is March. A newer theme is used here, but throughout all of its iterations it has been superlative.

#32: This is an automatic qualifier (yes, those exist in fake brackets, too, I make the rules and both need 32 entries and want to have a diverse selection) that I had never heard before this. The NASCAR theme is just happy to be invited.

Poll

#1 March Madness Theme (NCAA Basketball on CBS) vs. #32 NASCAR on NBC

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    March Madness Theme
    (22 votes)
  • 12%
    NASCAR on NBC
    (3 votes)
25 votes total Vote Now

#16 NBA on ESPN vs. #17 NFL Network Chimes

#16: This one is kind of a beta version of Roundball Rock, but still brings back solid implications of a big Friday or Sunday night basketball game, or perhaps the NBA Finals.

#17: Chimes rule. But that only gets you so far. After the initial build, it just kind of keeps going.

Poll

#16 NBA on ESPN vs. #17 NFL Network Chimes

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    NBA on ESPN
    (13 votes)
  • 40%
    NFL Network Chimes
    (9 votes)
22 votes total Vote Now

#8 Heavy Action (Monday Night Football) vs. #25 US Open on CBS

#8: Provides a great setting for football - it is strong, without being imposing or over the top. It is also a key indicator that a theme has staying power when, much like Roundball Rock, the theme transcends its broadcaster, league, or calendar period to earn a name of its own.

#25: I really tried to be modern and pick the ESPN tennis theme, but I just couldn’t. The CBS just kept calling me back.

Poll

#8 Heavy Action (Monday Night Football) vs. #25 US Open on CBS

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Heavy Action
    (20 votes)
  • 9%
    US Open on CBS
    (2 votes)
22 votes total Vote Now

#9 BCS Theme vs. #24 NHL on TSN

#9: Try to hear this without hearing the phrase “you are looking live” popping into the back of your head. It can’t be done. The perfect musical setting for the country’s sporting event most associated with a specific date and time and place, the Rose Bowl.

#24: It’s Canadian, eh! I presume if we were from there, this would resonate higher, but it is still a solid pregame number.

Poll

#9 BCS Theme vs. #24 NHL on TSN

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    BCS Theme
    (22 votes)
  • 29%
    NHL on TSN
    (9 votes)
31 votes total Vote Now

#4 SEC on CBS (NCAA Football on CBS) vs. #29 World Series of Poker

#4: CBS may not air the most sports, but they are certainly represented well on this list. As much as the general anti-SEC fan in me hates to admit it, this is the setting for the biggest game of the week, and unlike a lot of great football themes, it manages to stay upbeat and exciting, rather than feel very imposing and plodding. There’s likely a lot of that bias on the list - sports are fun! - but uptempo, lively themes really resonate with me.

#29: This is a suggestion from the writer’s room I had never heard. That said, it is kinda catchy. That’s about all I’ve got here. I wasn’t a poker guy, and don’t envision that being my speed in the near future, either.

Poll

#4 SEC on CBS (NCAA Football on CBS) vs. #29 World Series of Poker

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    SEC on CBS
    (22 votes)
  • 12%
    World Series of Poker
    (3 votes)
25 votes total Vote Now

#13 NHL on NBC vs. #20 The Thrill of Victory (Golf on CBS)

#13: I was surprised at how far this one slid down the list when I was attempting to seed these. Honestly, I thought about just generating a random number for all of them and going from there, but here we are. With this one in particular, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, rather than the regular season, are strongly intertwined in the ol’ memory box. Is this because the Blackhawks were incredible for nine straight seasons? Yes, yes it is. But the gravitas and tension of this carry one from the outside straight into the emotion of the game, which is exactly what a theme should do.

#20: I honestly didn’t know this wasn’t a derivative of the NFL on CBS theme until writing this up. I also didn’t realize CBS only used it for the Masters, and has only used it for a relatively short time. The more you know!

Poll

#13 NHL on NBC vs. #20 The Thrill of Victory (Golf on CBS)

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    NHL on NBC
    (7 votes)
  • 66%
    The Thrill of Victory
    (14 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now

#5 ESPN College Football (pre-2014) vs. #28 College Football Playoff

I promise I didn’t do this on purpose. In fact, until a few soccer-loving fellows in the writer’s room insisted I was underrating the MLS Theme, causing a reshuffling of the seeds, they weren’t matched. That being said, as a result, this is far and away the most intriguing matchup of the first round. I even had to change my blurbs!

#5: This is an excellent fit for college football, be it by tone, instrumentation, memorability, or originality. The marching band and drumline sound immediately conjures college football in particular, and the soaring, aspiring nature of the song both lends fun and excitement to the event at hand. It was tough not to rank this higher, but, even independent of that, it is among my personal go-tos.

#28: This one suffers from the exact same issues as the NFL on FOX theme, being that it is extremely iconic, but also extremely overplayed and, to be frank, somewhat plodding. It’s one thing to dump the BCS Theme for this when the CFP came around - I may not like it, but I get it - but the new age brought a boring, impersonal vamp that sounds a lot more like an NFL derivative and really misses the fun and esotericism that defines the sport. And, yes, this is the toned down, less biased for the sake of the matchup version of this blurb.

Poll

#5 ESPN College Football (pre-2014) vs. #28 College Football Playoff

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    ESPN College Football - Pre-Playoff Era
    (17 votes)
  • 26%
    ESPN College Football Playoff
    (6 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now

#12 F1 Theme vs. #21 Augusta

#12: If you are unfamiliar with this one - as I was - I IMPLORE you to take a listen before you vote. It takes a bit to get to the main part, and the faint car sounds are a bit much, but throwing a choir into a theme, much like the Duel of the Fates in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, adds an intensity that you don’t really know you are missing out on until you have it. Perhaps this is my preconceived notion of F1 as a primarily European concept and this being a very classical live setting for the recording, but this also feels to fit the moneyed globalist notion I have of the sport.

#21: Not really sure why ESPN also felt the need to update this one, but it was kind of the little cousin to the much more iconic pre-2014 era college football theme.

Poll

#12 F1 Theme vs. #21 Augusta

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    F1 Theme
    (15 votes)
  • 37%
    Augusta
    (9 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

Who ya got? Who got snubbed? Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. We’ll see you on Friday for the second half of the Round of 32.