One Shining Moment

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For the song by Diana Ross, see The Force Behind the Power.
Not to be confused with One Bright Shining Moment.

"One Shining Moment" is a song written by David Barrett about the NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship. "One Shining Moment" is traditionally played at the end of CBS and TBS's coverage of the championship game of the tournament. The song is played as the winning team's players cut down the nets, to a montage of highlights from the tournament.


Barrett, a singer-songwriter from Michigan, was inspired to write the song in 1986 while watching Larry Bird[1] play on TV at a bar called the Varsity Inn in East Lansing, Michigan, after having played a gig there.[2] He wrote the song down on a napkin the next day, later stating that "the song came fully formed" and "all the lyrics just wrote themselves."[2] He passed the song along to high school friend Armen Keteyian, an investigative journalist for CBS Sports and, at that time, Sports Illustrated, who in turn passed it to CBS Sports Creative Director Doug Towey.[2] However, Towey originally planned to debut the song not after a basketball game, but after a football game, Super Bowl XXI. It was to have been the postgame montage from that contest, but CBS ran past the expected airtime and had a primetime show to debut in the next time slot, so the montage was canceled. CBS then asked Barrett for use of the song after the 1987 NCAA championship game, in which Indiana beat Syracuse. Towey decided to use "One Shining Moment" to close CBS's coverage of the Tournament. The positive public response led to it becoming an annual feature.

Since 2016, TBS broadcasts the championship game biennially; there were concerns that the song would not be used in these years due to its association with CBS. However, on March 16, 2016, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus confirmed that "One Shining Moment" would still be used during years that Turner Sports broadcasts the championship game under the consortium's contract, owing to the long-standing tradition.[3][4]


The original version recorded by Barrett was used from 1987 to 1993, and briefly revived between 2000 and 2002. Versions recorded by Teddy Pendergrass (1994–1999), Luther Vandross (2003–2009, and since 2011) and Ne-Yo (since 2016) have also been used; Vandross' version is believed to be the last song he recorded before his stroke and subsequent death.[2]

A version by Jennifer Hudson was used for the 2010 edition; the format of the Hudson video deviated from prior years by cutting away from the tournament highlight montage on several occasions to show footage of Hudson singing in a recording studio, drawing criticism from some fans and viewers.[5][6][7] In response to the criticism, the Vandross version was restored the following year.[8][9]

On April 1, 2016, Turner announced that Ne-Yo had performed a version of "One Shining Moment" that would be used on the "Team Stream" broadcasts of the championship game on TNT and TruTV, which were tailored to focus on highlights of the two participating teams, as with the game broadcasts on these channels themselves. The Vandross version was still used for the main telecast on TBS.[10] In an effort to give the song "Turner flair" in honor of TBS's first national championship game broadcast, and to make light of the concerns regarding its use by the network, analyst Charles Barkley performed his own "tongue-in-cheek" cover of "One Shining Moment" in a commercial promoting that year's tournament.[4]


The first verse is about inspiration and hard work. The second verse deals with adversity, accompanied by highlights of injured players and missed shots. The bridge includes lines such as "Feel the beat of your heart", often shown with players thumping their chests, and "Feel the wind in your face", with video of drives towards the basket.[11]

There is a claim that the first line in the song was changed from "The ball is kicked" to "The ball is tipped." However, Barrett said[citation needed] "My daughter informed me that they claim that the initial line was the ball is kicked. That's not the case. It never was. The original line was, the gun goes off...which I changed to suit the tournament. Ironically - I wrote the song about basketball (after watching Larry Bird) but for some reason (who knows what I was thinking?!?) I didn't write it into the original first line. And so having the first line fall into place as it did was poetic and true."

The Chicago White Sox used the version with "The Gun Goes Off" to close their telecast on the final game at Comiskey Park on September 30th, 1990.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Abad-Santos, Alex (6 April 2015). "How One Shining Moment went from an ode to Larry Bird to the March Madness theme song". Vox. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The man behind One Shining Moment". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Boren, Cindy (2016-03-16). "No, the NCAA tournament isn't dumping 'One Shining Moment'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  4. ^ a b "Don't worry: 'One Shining Moment' is back for NCAA Tournament final despite airing on TBS". FTW. USA Today. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  5. ^ ""One Shining Moment" 2010 Revamp Draws Criticism". CBS News. April 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ Koster, Kyle (April 6, 2010). "One Shining Moment 2010 didn't shine all that brightly". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  7. ^ "Jennifer Hudson Leaves 'One Shining Moment' Fans Wanting Less This NCAA Tournament". 
  8. ^ "CBS to reinstate Luther Vandross version of One Shining Moment". 
  9. ^ Coogan, Steve (March 30, 2011). "CBS to shift back to Luther Vandross' version of 'One Shining Moment'". USA Today. 
  10. ^ "CBS, Turner introduce Ne-Yo as 'One Shining Moment' artist". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Sander, Libby (April 2, 2010). "At the Big Dance, the Song That Won't Go Away". The Journal of Higher Education. LVI (29): A24. ISSN 0009-5982. 

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