March 31, 2017
Filed under Sports
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As spring approaches, one of the most highly anticipated sporting events is set to start. As selection Sunday, March 12, reveals the dates, location and schedule of the upcoming games, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament begins. However, the annual tournament is unlike any other due to the overwhelming frenzy produced, coining the nickname “March Madness” for the tournament.
On average, March Madness has a viewership of 11.3 million people in America, ranking it the fourth most watched sporting event in America. For a three week period, people who do not normally tune into college basketball sacrifice ample amounts of their time to create brackets and watch their designated teams hopefully advance on in the tournament. One reason this tournament generates such a wide audience is the way the tournament proceeds. It is the largest national single-elimination competition anywhere in the world. With 64 college teams starting the tournament and only given one chance to advance, the tournament itself circles around excitement and anticipation. This also allows a larger audience to view and enjoy the games, since they do not have to have an extensive prior knowledge of the team and their match up to understand and root for a team.
The biggest cause for its significant popularity is the uncertainty factor the tournament brings. With the tournament being single elimination, even the lower seed teams have the potential to win and upset a predicted, higher seed team. The upsets often cause more people to tune in and participate in the bracket making process. The American Gaming Association roughly calculates that 40 million Americans will fill out more than 70 million brackets. Not only does this uncertainty circulate interest, it also creates the environment for bets and wagers to take place over who can come up with the most accurate bracket. The American Gaming Association also estimates that Americans will bet approximately $9 billion on the NCAA tournament.
Overall, the NCAA tournament brings a certain crazed fever to the month of March. In fact, the three weeks of tournament play often is called an employer’s nightmare, due to the lack of productivity it coincides with. Regardless, March Madness is a not a just an annual sporting event but a cultural phenomenon.