Music and Sports: A Beautiful Combination

Athletes and Music Lovers

The identity I chose to explore while taking Popular Culture is that of an athlete, who is also a lover of music. Music and sports have always seemed like two different world; you have your athletes and your musicians, your bands/choirs and your sports teams, and your concerts and your sporting events. After researching this topic throughout the semester, I have found out that these worlds are not that different at all, and can actually go hand in hand by benefiting each other beautifully.

One of the artifacts I looked at during the semester was the movie High School Musical. The film does a good job at portraying the identity of someone who is involved with both sports and music. It was extremely difficult for me to find more instances of this in the media. I was searching through movies and TV shows that I thought might contain another athlete/musician and I couldn’t hardly find any! This made me think that in the media, sports and music are not portrayed as going together. I found this interesting because I found many real-life examples in which athletes are also musicians and vice versa. It was odd to me that I could not find more examples in the media. I think the entertainment industry has this idea that an athlete must be just an athlete and a musician must be just a musician. The characters don’t get any room to explore other talents, which is a shame. The students in the movie are almost all one-dimensional. You have your athletes, your nerds, your skater punks, etc. I feel like back in the day, this is maybe how our world was. People just stuck to what they knew. I think in today’s world, however, people are becoming more interested in having multiple skills and interests. This is what needs to keep happening if we want to reach our full potential! Especially when talking about sports and music, because the two just go beautifully together. It really is amazing how they benefit each other.


During the term I also looked at an article published by ESPN Music. The article includes an interview between Chris Paul, a professional basketball player, and Kendrick Lamar, one of the most popular rappers in the game today. One of Kendrick’s quotes that I really liked is: “Hip-hop and being a pro athlete go hand in hand. When they come together, it’s a win, not just for your business brand but also for culture. I always use the word ‘culture,’ because that’s first — everything else falls behind it. When they see that this guy loves rap the way he does, and this guy loves basketball like he does, the business is going to flow behind it.” I want to elaborate the business aspect of sports and music. The article talks about the bond between sports and music — especially rap – and how it is now permanent and “unbreakable.” Hip-hop’s new generation, led by rappers such as Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, has allowed artists to be who they are – and the music has in turn challenged athletes to up their game and demand their true market value. This is a very interesting topic. Has certain music actually improved certain athletes playing ability? Have athletes caused certain music and artists to be more popular and therefore pushed them to be more successful? I think the answer to both those questions is yes. It is quite amazing how the two worlds influence each other in be great.

And it’s not all about business. The article also dives into the unique and sometimes offbeat ways in which the two worlds, music and sports, intersect and collide. Whether it’s musical inspiration for athletes and fans alike — such as Kobe Bryant recalling the song that was playing when his high school team celebrated a state championship — or the athletes themselves getting involved in music, such as snowboard Olympian Shaun White learning guitar. Music, in Kobe’s case, elevated that moment of winning a championship to an entirely new level. Shaun White, having the success he had in snowboarding, wanted to see if his talent might crossover into guitar.  Music and sports flourish together—the “unbreakable” bond is something that has formed over the last decade and something that will continue to grow. We are actually seeing professional athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal and Damian Lillard pursue a career in music along with their career in sports.

How Music Affects Our Bodies

Another very interesting article I came across titled Sound and Body: Music and Sports talked about dissociation and the effects of music on athletes from a biological standpoint. Dissociation refers to diverting the mind from sensations of fatigue that creep up and in during performance. Research has repeatedly shown how music can improve performance by drawing one’s attention away from feelings of fatigue and pain when engaged in endurance activities such as running, cycling, or swimming. It’s been shown that listening to music during exercise increases the efficiency of that activity and it postpones fatigue. This especially holds true if there is a synchrony between the rhythm of the music and the movements of the athlete themselves. In terms of muscle strength, music that is perceived to be motivating can lead to bursts of intensity. This increases your work capacity and can bring about ultra-high levels of explosive power, strength, and productivity. Think of its influence on running, high jumps, weightlifting, plyometrics, and even high intensity interval training.


Music also promotes flow states for internal motivation. Flow involves an altered mental state of awareness during activity. Even though it is a feeling of energised focus it seems the mind and body function on “autopilot” with minimal conscious effort. Some coaches and athletes refer to this as being “in the zone”. It sometimes has been referred to as a spellbinding state and can actually feel trance-like. So can you imagine how music can pair with flow for a stimulating and enhancing performance for yourself or client? Some athletes describe utilizing music to aid with their mental imagery during the routine part of their activity as allowing them to be “in the zone”. Many athletes use music in different ways in order to achieve a particular level of focus and concentration before a game or competition as well. Music enables them to put aside all other outside distractions in order to concentrate and envision what they want to accomplish during the game.



Several studies have linked music with positive feelings and memories. Music can boost internal motivation by triggering good emotions, helping you experience much greater pleasure from the activity. This is magnified when a piece of music reminds you of an aspect of your life that is emotionally significant. Music and sports benefit each other beautifully, and can flourish together in a culture where being an athlete and a music lover  in the media as almost nonexistent. 

What I’ve Learned 

I have learned a lot this semester in regards to pop culture. Two things I would like to highlight are how to dissect media source’s credibility and how to avoid plagiarism. It is important when looking at news reports and media coverage to look for bias. It is extremely difficult in this day in age to tell what is being reported truthfully and what is not. A couple steps I learned that have helped me so far include researching more deeply about what is being reported, looking for facts instead of opinions, and making sure the sources that I’m looking at are credible.

Another thing I learned was how to avoid plagiarism. Back in the day, it was harder to plagiarize because we didn’t have computers and copy and paste. It is harder now than ever to know how to source correctly and how to avoid using another’s ideas without giving them credit.  Several ways we can avoid plagiarizing include knowing how to use references, doing our work on time so we are not pressured by time to get it done, and using our own ideas and thoughts.

Works Cited

Sheppard, J. R. (2008, October 8). Sound of Body: Music, Sports and Health in Victorian

Britain. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Teitelman, Bram. “Faction: giving athletes, and the music they love, a voice.” Billboard Radio

Monitor, 5 Aug. 2005, p. 12. General OneFile. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.

Terry, P. (2012, Dec. & Jan.). Effects of synchronous music on elite athletes during training

activities. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from


3 thoughts on “Music and Sports: A Beautiful Combination

  1. This was such a fun read! My life is consumed by mostly music and sports, so reading this post made me really happy because I could relate to every single thing. It’s amazing what music can do to and for you. Sometimes when I hear a certain song, I’ll remember back to my high school sports days; having earphones in and imagining myself doing certain tricks along to the rhythm of the song being played. I agree that music and sports go hand and hand beautifully. It’s odd that the portrayal of music and sports as one is rarely ever shown in popular culture, but is shown all over in real life.

  2. Hi Brandon!
    I was really able to relate to this post because being a student athlete, music is a huge part of my everyday life, especially on game days. Like you said, its a huge factor in triggering emotions and pleasure with what you’re doing, and when it comes to anything I do athletically I make sure music is there so for the simple fact that it helps me get in the mindset I need to be.
    Great post!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post, Brandon! this was a great post because i could relate to it. I think music is the best place for an athlete to find their mojo before a big game, match or tournament. What great is the music brings out emotions in the athlete, and you pointed on that perfectly. I have seen interviews with great athletes, and the music they listen to before a game helps them prepare for the game. The great part about music and the athlete, is there ability to get outside of their head, and prepare for the game.
    I really enjoyed your post!

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