Putting the Funk into Slam Dunk: In the Locker Room with Leicester Riders
Music and sport have gone hand in hand for hundreds of years; Music was played at the opening ceremony of the first Olympic games back in 1896 and a song believed to have been composed in the 1890s was adopted by fans of Norwich City Football Club – it is still sung by fans today.
Over the years there has been research conducted on the effect music can have on athletes and how using music during training can help improve performance, but what about the use of music to enhance the fan experience, and build a team identity?
Consider the sound of Swing Low Sweet Chariot echoing around Twickenham Stadium sung by 50,000 England rugby fans as they lift and support their team and country during games.
And who doesn’t recognise how important it is to the Liverpool Football Club fans, and the team, when supporters start to sing the first lines of You’ll Never Walk Alone ?
Music has the ability to stir the emotions and become the bridge between the team and the fans. Music could help to build the tension during the game, lift a team who are losing, it could even become as much a part of their identity as their team strip or emblem.
Recognising this link, Leicester-based music licensing company PPL PRS Ltd is sponsoring the Leicester Riders, reigning British Basketball League Champions, for the 2019/20 season, and PPL PRS spoke to some of the players and their coach, who have shared their own views about music at their games.
Leicester Riders use music throughout their home games, and during training sessions. They have observed the effect it can have on the fans, the players and sometimes the game itself.
Riders Coach Rob Pasternostro said: ‘Music is important. Any sporting event that you go to, music plays a part. The music can really get the fans going, it can also get the players going too. There are certain tracks, especially in the pre-game that can get them fired up and ready to play…We all love to be lifted by music.’
Kyron Cartwright, who joined the Riders in 2019, and is from Compton, USA says: ‘I think music can play a big part in the experience; it can give the fans something they can relate to. They hear the songs and it can get them going and bring a little bit of energy. It ties everything together, it’s like that glue.’
Joe Scott, who plays Guard for the Riders, believes that music is extremely important. ‘If you look, for example, at movies, they wouldn’t be the movies they are without the music. The same with a basketball game, the fans hear these songs, it gets the fans into it, it puts a different tone on the game altogether. Sometimes it changes the way you play, it really adds to the atmosphere, for me. If you took music out of basketball, it would change the game.’
Josh Ward-Hibbert, who has been with the team for three years, and is also a title-winning tennis player, thinks music is massively important, especially to basketball. ‘Some people have come to watch games, who don’t watch basketball regularly, and they went away saying they enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere, and I think music plays a massive part in that. Music keeps the crowd entertained and energised, it brings the crowd into the game.’
Jamell Anderson, who has represented both Great Britain and England at the Commonwealth Games, says: ‘Music is hugely important, especially for the fans. The game is really fast, but at the same time the game changes pace, just like music does. If you are playing the right music, and you’ve got the right atmosphere, they go really well together, and it makes for a better experience.’
‘You can see the fans dancing, singing along to some of the songs, without it, it would take away a lot of the atmosphere.’
Riders Captain Andy Thompson, who has won 19 trophies in a 7-year career in the BBL added: ‘During a tense moment in the game, the right kind of music at the right time can build that suspense. We are trying to make the game as exciting as possible and music can add to that.’
Namon Wright, who came to the Riders in July 2019 from Colorado on how the game would be without music: ‘It would definitely be a different atmosphere. Music is engaging for the fans.’
Music really is that connection between sport and the audience. Fans believe when they sing their team’s signature song at the top of their voices, it can change the pace of the game, it can add some extra energy to a tired team when they hear those voices carrying them to the final whistle.
TheMusicLicence from PPL PRS can provide that link between sport and music. When a sports stadium or venue play music they need to be correctly licensed to ensure that the artists who create the music they are playing are fairly rewarded for their work, just as the athletes are who are performing at the game.
Being licensed by PPL PRS to play music means sports clubs and teams can make their match music choices from millions of tracks available, so they can influence the atmosphere and engagement with the fans throughout the game if this helps to build that tension and getting the crowd on their feet to support and encourage their teams.
Whatever the reason, if a sports club wants to play music at its games or in the venue, it should contact PPL PRS today to make sure it is correctly licensed and put the bounce into the game.