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The Madness on March 23

by Lynne Belluscio

The Historical Society’s annual Dinner Auction will be held Saturday evening, March 23rd.  There is a basketball theme, so you can wear your favorite team’s jersey. Since “March Madness” is copyrighted by the NCAA, (as well as “Final Four” and “Elite Eight”) we cannot have a “March Madness” party unless we want to apply for the license for a couple of thousand dollars.  In fact, trademark infringement litigation brings in millions of dollars for the NCAA.

 The first Final Four was held in 1939. The championship game was played between the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio Buckeyes.  Oregon won 46 to 33.    (Oregon would not make a Final Four again until 2017).  In 1982, a CBS sportscaster used “March Madness” in reference to a collegiate tournament and because NCAA had sponsored the CBS tournament, they decided that they owned the rights to the term. But in reality, the NCAA wasn’t the first to use “March Madness” in reference to a basketball tournament. That honor goes to the Illinois High School Association in the 1940s.  So “March Madness” origins are traced to high school basketball.

The history of basketball is well known.  In 1891, James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, who was working at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, introduced a new game that could be played in a gymnasium in the winter.

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