Like brass bands, or singing at football matches, the ting-a-ling sensation of a cowbell feels warm and traditional -- part of the very fabric of sport.
But that fabric is changing.
Where once making noise at events was the responsibility of the fans, clubs and venues increasingly see the atmosphere as theirs to generate, maintain -- and police.
Go to most major sporting events in 2013 and the ambiance will be provided by vast, booming speaker systems.
In a world of YouTube, endless TV channels and bewildering freedom of entertainment choice, sports reach out and grab their audience by the ears.
So is the cowbell a relic of an age when fans were left to their own devices?
"Sport now sells music and music sells sport," says academic Anthony Bateman, who researches the relationship between the two at England's De Montfort University in Leicester.
"The links are getting stronger and stronger and that is partly commercial.
"Music is pumped out to encourage chanting and singing and there is a sense that, for example, football clubs are intruding into what was once a fairly spontaneous part of fan culture."
Records of chanting at football matches go back to the 19th Century, with famous songs such as Portsmouth's "Pompey Chimes" and Norwich's "On The Ball City" dating to the late 1800s.
A century earlier, says Bateman, early books on cricket described a "rambunctious crowd culture, a little like the (present-day England supporters') Barmy Army".
Contrast that with an example from 2004, he says.
"The Premier League actually paid someone (Birmingham City fan Jonny Hurst) $16,000 to write chants for different clubs.
"People said that typified the sterile, corporate atmosphere -- supporters are not trusted to come up with their own songs any more. It was an organic relationship in the past, and now things seem terribly forced."
Indoor sports arenas, in particular, now batter occupants with wall-to-wall music during stoppages in play.
Extreme outdoor pursuits emerged hand-in-hand with a youth culture of music and video, while football teams have been known to play recordings of chants to get a crowd going as sports establish which techniques work, and which simply alienate their fanbase.
"Sound is one way by which sports are now constantly reinventing themselves," concludes Bateman.
Cowbell in vogue
Yet diehard ski race fans still stand on a slope and ring bells from a small Norwegian factory, in the tradition of Alpine farmers.
And that tradition spreads by the month.