Well, it's that time of year again. The Super Bowl's history, spring training is just getting started, and the five and a half months of NBA Playoffs are still seven weeks away. And that can mean only one thing: tax season. Whether you prepare your own, roll the dice with a twenty-five year-old from H&R Block, or hire some fancy shmancy CPA, no other annual ritual drives us more bonkers. Thank God there's college basketball to keep us sane.
The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, also known as "March Madness," or "The Big Dance," or "Yet Another Opportunity To Gamble My Money Away," begins on March 20th. If you have no current plans to enter a March Madness office pool or other technically illegal endeavor, Pacatrue is hosting an online Yahoo Pick‘em contest (details available on his blog, sorry weblog), and while there’s no actual money at stake, you will get the chance to suffer devastating humiliation at the hands of the rest of us who know what we’re doing.
The first couple of weeks in March will be dominated by conference tournaments and the usual jockeying for favorable Championship Tournament seeding. Once the dust settles and the dance card is officially set on March 16th, I’ll be offering expert advice and inside tips so you’ll have supreme confidence in filling out your brackets, and, incidentally, I’ll have supreme confidence that I can beat you.
In the meantime, I thought it might be beneficial to relay some of the history and highlights of March Madnesses past, to instill in you a better appreciation for the significance of this event. Today though we’ll start simply by exploring the origin of the term “March Madness.”
While Brent Musburger is credited with associating March Madness with the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the early 80s, its origin goes all the way back to 1939. Henry Van Arsdale Porter, a coach and athletic administrator within the Illinois High School Association, wrote an article called “March Madness” for an in-house publication. It reads pretty much like an article written by a coach and athletic administrator for an in-house publication, wherein he waxes nonsensical about high school basketball, but it also has that added informally formal charm of an era when people still dressed up to attend sporting events. (If you’re interested, you can read it here.) But nevertheless, March Madness was born. Porter followed up this article with a poem, written in 1942, titled “Basketball Ides of March.” And as a treat for all of you writers-not-sports-fans who managed to make it this far, the poem has been recreated in its entirety below, without the express written consent of anyone.
Basketball Ides of March
The gym lights gleam like a beacon beam
And a million motors hum
In a good will flight on a Friday night;
For basketball beckons, "Come!"
A sharp-shooting mite is king tonight.
The Madness of March is running.
The winged feet fly, the ball sails high
And field goal hunters are gunning.
The colors clash as silk suits flash
And race on a shimmering floor.
Repressions die, and partisans vie
In a goal acclaiming roar.
On a Championship Trail toward a holy grail,
All fans are birds of a feather.
It's fiesta night and cares lie light
When the air is full of leather.
Since time began, the instincts of man
Prove cave and current men kin.
On tournament night the sage and the wight
Are relatives under the skin.
It's festival time, sans reason or rhyme
But with nation-wide appeal.
In a cyclone of hate, our ship of state
Rides high on an even keel.
With war nerves tense, the final defense
Is the courage, strength and will
In a million lives where freedom thrives
And liberty lingers still.
Now eagles fly and heroes die
Beneath some foreign arch
Let their sons tread where hate is dead
In a happy Madness of March.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, wherein I explain such oddities as the Gonzaga Flex Entry, bracketology, and Dick Vitale.
Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or other use of this post, without the express written consent of the NCAA, is strictly prohibited.