“Salute to Olympians” by Henry Mancini is Sounders traditional ‘Fight Song’


The unlikely source of a song that is now a Seattle Sounders tradition.

by David Falk

It is a cross-generation tradition, and has been played for the Sounders in the five different stadiums they’ve played in over the years, usually when the players enter the field, sometimes after Seattle goals, and sometimes after matches. The USL club had several versions, including a slower one that the played at halftime and after matches. The MLS Sounders also use a variation of the song, and the Sound Wave plays the tune before and after matches.

But what is it, and how did it beome a tradition?

In the early 1970’s the Seattle All-City Band adopted a song. The Henry Mancini song, called “Salute to the Olympians,” was originally written in 1973 for the soundtrack to Visions of Eight (a documentary about the tragic events of the 1972 Munich Olympics). A new arrangement became the theme for the Sounders and then for All-City (who shared a home field, Memorial Stadium). Since that day “Sounders” has been played every year in All-City and takes its permanent place as song #3. As this is the All-City theme song, it is a tradition to play it as the first and last song of every performance.

The Seattle Sounders were formed in late 1973 and debuted in the North American Soccer League in 1974. “Salute to the Olympians” was a favorite of Sounders front office and match day staff, who were looking for theme. The Sounders brass heard the ‘marching band’ version of the song during a Seattle All-City band practice in spring 1974, and that same year the club used a recording of the version at home matches.

The rest is Seattle soccer history.

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