Just What is March Madness?

Final FourEvery March basketball fans everywhere are glued to their TV’s or any other device to watch the annual NCAA basketball tournament. It’s affectionately called March Madness and fans love it.   Some take time off from work to catch the games and some watch or listen at work. (Uh oh.)  The lengthy tournament includes upsets and wild overtime games and that’s why it’s “Madness.”


The phrase March Madness has become really well known in the last few years but it actually goes back a long way and is attributed to Henry V. Porter, assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association.   Porter first used the term to describe the Illinois High School basketball tournament.  In 1908 the Illinois tournament was at first a small invitational tournament but in the late 1930’s grew to include 900 teams and attracted sell-out crowds.   Porter was a teacher, principal, coach, and he was also a gifted writer. In 1939 wrote an essay about the tournament for the IHSA magazine entitled “March Madness.”

Some attribute using March Madness to describe the wildly popular NCAA tournament to broadcaster Brent Musburger.  He heard the phrase in relation to the Illinois High School tournament and though it was the perfect way to describe the NCAA tournament.    I have to agree, and I love watching the madness every year.

If you know any sports fans that can’t get enough of the madness check out these great gifts.

One Response to “Just What is March Madness?”

  1. Kevin says:

    As an interesting tournament ritual, the winning team cuts down the nets at the end of regional championship games, as well as the national championship game. No idea how that originated.

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