March Madness was born in Illinois. The annual tournament of high school boy's basketball teams, sponsored by the Illinois High School Association, grew from a small invitational affair in 1908 to a statewide institution with over 900 schools competing by the late 1930?s.
It wasn’t until the early 1980?s that fans of NCAA basketball began to use the term to describe the playoff series that takes place at the college/university level. Most historians would agree that March Madness was popularized in the college arena by Brent Musburger, a CBS sportscaster who had worked in Chicago for many years prior to joining CBS.
Brent Musburger and March Madness
March Madness is a popular term for season-ending basketball tournaments played in March (Brent Musburger is generally regarded as the individual who first used that phrase in conjunction with the college tournament, using it during CBS Sports' coverage of the tourney back in 1982 - see below), especially those conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various state high school associations. The phrase was not associated with the college tournament in 1939, when an Illinois official wrote "A little March Madness [may] contribute to sanity." March Madness is also a registered trademark, held jointly by the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association. The trademark has sparked a pair of high-profile courtroom battles in recent years.
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