Music and Sports: They’re More Similar Than You Think

The same? Sorta. Maybe.? Not really.

Dennis Rodman was the “rock star” of the NBA during his playing days. His flamboyant lifestyle, tattoos, extravagance, and eccentricity being the most obvious reasons why. That, and his aggressive defensive style made him stick out of an otherwise dull crowd of players.  Which added another line to his resume: Rebel. And we all know that rock and roll and rebellion have been tied together since the days of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Sports have had their fair share of “rebels,” from Ty Cobb to Muhammad Ali to Andre Agassi to Mark Cuban to Brian Wilson, and everyone in between. To be a rebel in sports is to stand out from the rest of the athletes you compete against, either through personality, politics, or for sheer  entertainment value. To be a rebel in music is…expected.

If you have ever played any form of organized sports–whether it be Little League baseball, soccer, high school track, or volleyball–then you fundamentally understand the concept of a team. If you have ever played in band then you too should understand that concept. Both require all of its parts to be in sync for there to be any real success.

Team owners can be the major label record executives that cry about loosing money and a dwindling industry while refusing to lay any of the blame upon themselves for their failures of the past (and unwillingness to project the future). Team general managers play the role of the A&R reps responsible for discovering the talent and connecting the dots to put it all together. Coaches are the music producers: the ones who have to interact directly with the players and musicians and get the best performance out of each. And of course, the athletes are the actual musicians, the one’s without whom none of this would really matter. They’re the “talent,” as they like to say.

Sports have been around for centuries, and of course, so has music. Both are forms of entertainment that some fans take way more seriously than they should (like starting a blog).  There are individual sports–such as tennis or golf–just as there are solo artists in music. Sometimes those sports can be played in pairs, like doubles tennis or skins in golf. Often, solo artists will collaborate with one another to form a group (I’m talking about you Traveling Wilbury’s). There are team sports, and there are bands. There are football teams (orchestras), basketball teams (standard rock bands), and hockey teams (definitely thrash metal acts). Many times an individual on a sports team will find themselves in free agency and move on to another team, thinking they might find more success elsewhere. David Lee Roth thought leaving Van Halen would be a good career move. How did that one turn out? I won’t even get into Mick Jaggers’ solo records or Brett Favre.

So besides the obvious similarities such as fame, fortune, hero-worship, and the potential to become a legend in your field, no one ever expects a rock star to be a role model for raising their kids like athletes sometimes are (that is, unless your name is Bono). And when was the last time you made the reference to someone living a certain prolific lifestyle and said, “they party like an…athelete?”


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