Why is March Madness So Popular?


Destiny Short

Out of all the sporting events of the year, March Madness is one of the most well-known. It is the NCAA’s Division 1 basketball tournament. It is the largest single elimination style tournament in college sports. It contains 64 teams, and is done in six rounds, including the “First Four.” The first tournament was in 1939, and only included eight teams. The eight teams doubled to 16 in 1951 and kept expanding until 1985 when it had 64 teams. In 2001, another game was added, and in 2011 another three were added to create the “First Four.” The first round consists of 32 games and gets cut to the “Sweet 16” in the second round. The third round has the “Elite Eight” and the fourth round has the “Final Four.” The fifth and final round is the National Championship. The champion must win six games in a row to earn the title. The term “March Madness” was first used in 1939 by Henry V. Porter but didn’t find its way to the NCAA tournament until CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger used it during coverage of the 1982 tournament.

It has become so popular because college basketball fills the gap in sports seasons between baseball and football. Since all the games are back to back, it stays exciting the whole time and keeps viewers interested. An estimated 70 million brackets are filled out every year for the tournament, and it is almost a ritual for most college basketball fans. To them, it is comparable to a holiday.