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Why Is It Called ‘March Madness’?

It is perhaps our greatest sporting event in the U.S. Yes, the Super Bowl is great, the Daytona 500 is huge too. But the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is something special. 68 teams vying for the national championship. We have selection shows and bracketology ‘experts’. It gets so crazy we end up calling it all ‘March Madness‘! But where did the term originate?

The phrase ‘March Madness’ traces it’s origin back to Illinois and that states’ high school basketball tournament which began in 1908. In 1939, an author wrote an article about that tournament and called his piece ‘March Madness’. It wasn’t until 1982 that the term was used to talk about the NCAA men’s tournament.


Yes, legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger uttered the phrase for the first time. Musburger recently retired from sports broadcasting this year. In 1989, the Illinois High School Athletic Association tried to trademark the phrase ‘March Madness’. They eventually reached an agreement with the NCAA in 1996, as the two now control the rights to the saying.

So enjoy the buzzer beaters, the upsets, the brackets and all the sights and sounds of this year’s March Madness!


[via Slate]

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