Ranking Major Sports Theme Songs

The new ESPN NBA theme just came out, and it is absolute garbage. As time has passed, these sports themes appear to be getting worse and worse. Thankfully, many of these networks still preserve most of the classic tunes. Here are my rankings of all major sports themes from worst to best. Some no longer exist but still exist in our memories and hearts. I will make sure to leave a video to click on for each sports theme song so you can judge for yourself whether it is any good.  


6. Amazon's Thursday Night:  This is horrendous. As I said in my introduction, the newer sports theme songs are gross in every shape and form. It feels like I'm listening to custom-made football music you'd hear on an off-brand football video game. Madden games probably put out better instrumental themes than this. Nothing in this music hypes you up or hooks you into what's about to happen. I can't imagine this music leaving any lasting legacy.  

5. NFL Network Thursday Night:  I believe this was made back in 2011, so not the oldest or most classic music, but still better than what Amazon has now. A little newer than the others proves my point further that more recent sports themes are garbage, and this one feels very middle of the road. It feels more like football, but I honestly don't remember this one at all. Maybe they stopped playing this one a while ago because I have no memory of this song whatsoever. It's not terrible, but it doesn't feel as sophisticated as the better ones.

4. ESPN Monday Night Football:  Now we're in some quality stuff here. This is a pure classic, but I realized it's only the first 15 seconds that hook the hardest. The music after those first fifteen seconds is decent during commentary, but I never hear myself humming through that part at all. It's best played before a game too. If I were to listen to this after a commercial break or at the end of a game, it would have a different effect. Again though, those first fifteen seconds before kick-off is what carries this theme song.  

3. CBS NFL theme: There's no more perfect theme than this one for the afternoon slate of NFL games. This theme feels like we're about to get some heavy defensive AFC football. It's a great intro theme before a game, but it's an even better outro song at the end of a game. It feels like your players went through hell and came out winners at the end and earned it. However, hearing this song after your team loses hurts harder than the other themes.  

2. FOX NFL theme: This is what I like to hear just before sitting on the couch all day long to watch NFL football. FOX nailed this theme song with it hitting perfectly both before kick-off, after the commercial break, and at the end of a game. CBS has a better theme at the end of a match, but FOX still hits strong. It feels like high-quality NFC offensive football is about to kick off when this theme plays. This theme is as football as football gets and is probably the perfect theme to hear as you're munching on some Papa John's right before kick-off.  

1. NBC Sunday Night Football:  After a long day of both FOX and CBS football, where some of the games were low-scoring or blowouts, maybe a handful of excellent games, this is where we are supposed to receive the premier teams of the day facing off. I don't care much about Carrie Underwood shaking and dancing around before the game. After her little song, the instrumental theme makes me feel like I'm about to watch the best game of the week. That doesn't always happen, but that theme convinces us otherwise. And whenever I think "Superbowl," I think of this particular theme song that should get played, regardless of the network.  

College Football: 

4. BCS Era ESPN College Football Theme: Surprisingly, college football doesn't have any bad themes. The only one I can think of is the SEC network, which is too niche and not worth ranking. Here I am going with a classic that, although good, its successor is much better. This theme is decently fun to listen to but, unfortunately, is far more forgettable than any other college football theme. The only advantage this theme has is I think it's the better theme the wake up and listen to just before college gameday on Saturday morning, but that's probably the only value it holds.  

3. Fox Sports College Football Theme: The college football themes at this point are excellent, including this theme. Fox Sports took their iconic NFL theme and made it sound more like "college football" with those marching band drums. It gives me the feeling of knowing I've got some good college football and reminds me that we will be getting the best quality football the next day on Sunday. Fox nailed it with their style on this one.

2. Playoff Era ESPN College Football Theme: It's scarce in this ranking that a newer theme song is better than the old one, but this is the perfect example. I love this theme song way more than the old one. ESPN's new playoff-era theme has a much catchier hook to listen to. Every time I hear it, I think of all the teams playing out their seasons to get to the playoffs. Currently, college football has the worst postseason in American sports (until the 12-team playoff format gets implemented), but their theme song still needs to hit right. I hope to hear this theme song for decades, but knowing ESPN, they'll probably get bored quickly of it and change it to something more generic simply for the sake of change.  

1. CBS College Football Theme: This is the most iconic theme played for college football. Because of the CBS contract with the SEC, all SEC schools are practically tied to this theme song. It's a shame that CBS is moving on from the SEC to do the BIG10 instead. That will take some severe adjusting, but CBS should always keep their college football theme the same regardless. Hearing this theme song in July when no other sports are on definitely gets the juices and excitement for college football. But in October, when the SEC conference matchups go at it, and the weather starts taking a dip into colder temperatures, that's when this theme fits just right. It never gets old to listen to, and is played perfectly from before the game, going into a commercial break and at the end. This is as perfect as a theme song can get for college football.    


5. 2022 ESPN NBA Theme: I said this in the introduction, but I'll dive a couple of feet deeper here. The quality and creativity behind this theme are so pathetic. This theme might be worse than Amazon's Thursday night football theme. The funny thing is that there was no need to update this theme song. Nothing in this theme song that hooks a listener into the game. NBA 2K has become a trash series, and this theme song feels like it should be on there instead. Absolutely no flow; it's likely to sound terrible during commentary; ESPN will regret this one. I bet you could play this theme to someone who doesn't even know about this yet and could not tell you it's a "basketball" themed instrumental. I'm not looking forward to listening to this garbage for the next five years. Listen to the old theme compared to the new one; if you genuinely like the new one, you should lose your right to vote.

4. Bally Sports: I associate this theme song with NBA because of the amount of Charlotte Hornets games I watch. This theme song is actually played for all their sports broadcasted on this network, but I'm going to throw it into the NBA catalog. I like listening to it before a commercial break, but that's it. This one does not hype me up for the game at all. Bally Sports should've bought the rights to the old Fox Sports NBA theme, which I'll throw in here later. I don't find myself humming to this theme or getting excited about anything when hearing this theme. It's too simple, and nothing about it hooks a listener to watch the screen when playing.  

3. Fox Sports NBA theme: This one hasn't existed since Fox acquired Bally sports. I'm not sure why Fox did this because Bally Sports so far has been a terrible product. There's not much to say about this theme, but overall it is a great theme to hear in the regular season. It's not the most captivating theme song, but any fan with an NBA team that Fox Sports Network broadcasted felt like this was their own little theme song compared to the Lakers, Knicks, Bulls, and other "big" market teams. Not the most powerful theme in the mix compared to others but still very solid.  

2. NBA on TNT: I find myself humming this one a good bit. The entirety of the song feels like a great basketball theme that progressively gets better and better as it plays out. It's also a great theme to listen to on repeat. I think this theme song does better as a "coming back from commercial" than a "going into commercial" piece, but that's not the highest value of a sports theme. There's nothing more disappointing than hearing this music and getting excited to hear Shaq, Chuck, and Kenny start wise-cracking jokes at each other, then not seeing Chuck and getting someone like Dwayne Wade. Overall great theme with little to no flaw to it.

1. Roundball Rock (NBC): I personally didn't grow up with this theme song in the 90s, but even I know how special it was hearing this music going into a big-time NBA game. Instantly recognizable and hooks so firmly. This theme song does not get more NBA basketball than this one specifically. The problem is that I'm not sure people younger than myself associate this theme song with NBA. Right now, the rights to this song were purchased by Fox Sports, and they play this theme for their college basketball games going into a commercial break. What a travesty. It is beyond out of place being played for college basketball. I don't understand why ESPN doesn't use their Disney money and buy the rights to this song from Fox so they can play it for their national broadcast games. Just a shame this theme song isn't where it should be.  

College Basketball:

4. Fox Sports College Basketball Theme: I'm not spending much time on this because this is a farce. Fox needs to drop Roundball Rock and sell the rights to ESPN for NBA because this is NOT college basketball. I understand they had to get something to replace their old theme, which was just the college football theme, but this was not the right move. Honestly, if they grabbed the old Fox Sports NBA theme song I mentioned earlier and made it the new college basketball theme, I'd be okay with that, but Roundball Rock deserves better than this.  

3. ESPN College Basketball (Current): This has been playing for the past few years, and it's just the lamest theme song ever. It's not catchy, and it sometimes sounds too quiet to hear. Nothing at all about this theme hypes me up for the upcoming game. It may work as a little theme going into the commercial break, but that's all it's suitable for. Again, this is another example of newer music being worse than its predecessor. ESPN needs to stop making changes to things that were utterly sufficient.  

2. ESPN College Basketball (2011-2017): I wonder why ESPN went away from this theme to their current one. This was by far better. It's not the most iconic, but still an excellent theme to listen to before the half-court shot attempt by a fan at a college basketball game day. I get nostalgic thinking about this theme back for ESPN's super Tuesdays for college basketball. Overall solid, simple, and basketball.  

1. CBS College Basketball Theme: This particular sports theme is what inspired me to write this article in the first place. Is there honestly any more iconic theme than this music in March? To hear this musical tune on the TV and watch the magical event of March Madness does not get more special than this. I sometimes listen to this theme on a loop to get myself to reminisce on how unique march madness is. I'll even have this theme playing in the background as I fill out the bracket to get me in the mood. It's been a little modified recently, and I'm not the biggest fan of it, but overall the proper theme is there, and you still recognize it immediately, so as long as it doesn't modify too much, I'm more than content. I'm not a fan of the CBS network, but I would be massively disappointed if they were to lose the NCAA tournament's rights, meaning we wouldn't get this special them to go along with it. March Madness is the greatest sporting event in American sports, and a small part is credited to this perfect theme.  

MLB: I should preface that baseball is an inferior sport; if you can even classify it as a sport, that will eventually die (at least, I hope so). But I am ranking the theme songs of all major sports so that I will put aside my negative bias toward baseball for the sake of this list.  

3. TBS MLB theme: I had just heard this theme song when writing this article, which sounded highly bland. It just sounds like two notes playing back and forth to each other over and over. This was too generic and did not make me think of "baseball" at all.  

2. ESPN MLB theme: This one is short and sweet and sounds impactful. It feels like the game of the week is playing when this theme hits. It does sound like the type of game something big might happen. It's probably the best introduction theme song to an MLB game.  

1. Fox Sports MLB theme: As much as I don't like baseball, even I have to admit this one does sound pretty cool. Fox nailed this one, especially for the playoffs and the world series. I just realized Fox abandoned this theme for over a decade and used the NFL theme for MLB for the entire 2010s. I hope whoever made that decision works at Mcdonald's because that was insanely dumb to try and mesh the two. A great theme that makes me feel like I should at least tune in and see how the first couple of innings go, but only for playoffs; regular-season baseball is a waste of time unless you're at an actual game.  


3. Fox Sports World Cup theme:  This isn't the worst, but it's a downgrade from when ESPN had the rights to the World Cup. The beginning of this theme sucks so badly and doesn't hook me very quickly into watching International Soccer. This should've been short and sweet and started at the thirty-five-second mark, where it plays its uniqueness. I can't stand the shouting woman in the background; it's trying desperately to sound more international than it is. Not a terrible theme, but far from the best. 

2. English Premier League:  This one isn't that much better than the Fox Sports World Cup theme, but it has a subtleness I like about it. It sounds a little too similar to NBC's NHL theme, which I'll mention later, but still different. Nothing overly exciting about it, but still nice to hear when going into the forty-five-minute half-time mark.  

1. ESPN World Cup theme:  Whoever obtains the rights to broadcast the World Cup (FOX) should also be required to obtain the rights to this theme song. I doubt anything else can come close to nailing how perfectly this fits with the World Cup. This theme song gets me excited for a match between Japan vs. Canada, two countries that will probably get knocked out of their group stage, but who cares? It still hooks me into the match. The only flaw this theme song might have is that it doesn't feel like it can be played for any soccer-related event other than the World Cup, but it's still as memorable and unique as it gets. The Fox Sports World Cup theme will never be revered like this one.  


3. TNT NHL theme:  This song is alright but feels more like a football-styled theme than hockey. It's not terrible and has some uniqueness, but it could've been much better than it currently is.  

2. ESPN NHL theme:  Apparently, this used to be a classic in the 90s, but ESPN lost the broadcasting rights to the NHL for decades, but they recently obtained them back along with their old theme. I feel like I'm certainly about to watch a good hockey game when listening to this one.  

1. NBC NHL theme:  Admittedly, NHL playoffs are the only time I get into hockey. But when I would hear this theme every time a match would start or they would go to a commercial break, it would get me all excited about the match I was about to watch. This theme song hit perfectly with what big-time hockey should sound like. This probably could've been played perfectly fine during the regular season, but playoff hockey with this theme hits differently and gets even the casual fan to watch.  

Here’s a link to a playlist with a massive collection of other sports themes that didn’t make the article.