Since 1939, March Madness has referred to various basketball tournaments. Initially, it was just a high school tournament held in Illinois. Over time, the tournament became associated with one of the most prominent organizations in sports, the NCAA.
March Madness originated in Illinois, where a high school basketball tournament was first held in 1908. By the 1930s, it had grown to a significant event with over 900 schools participating.
During the event’s early years, held at the University of Illinois’ Huff Gymnasium, sellout crowds could watch the games. In a time when professional leagues were still in their early stages, basketball fever had started to spread in the state.
March Madness is officially a registered trademark with the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association. H.V. Porter coined it. He was born in the small town of Manito, Illinois. After graduating from college, Porter taught in various high schools, such as those in Keithsburg, Mount Zion, and Delavan, before becoming the principal of the Athens High School from 1919 to 1928. After becoming the assistant manager of the IHSA in 1928, Porter’s career in the organization had taken off.
In 1939, Porter wrote an essay about March Madness, and in 1942, he also used the term in a poem. The term became very popular in the state of Illinois, especially during the years that followed. In 1977, Illinois High School Association released a book about the tournament.
As a result, Porter became a member of various influential organizations, such as the National Basketball Association. During the 1930s and the 1990s, he helped develop multiple innovations, such as the molded basketball, which became a game-changer. He also helped create the rules for high school football and basketball.
The Golden Era
The tournament became very popular during the 1930s. The term March Madness became very popular during the 1940s and 1950s, during the tournament’s “Golden Era.”
During this period, various legendary teams from Illinois were featured, such as the undefeated Taylorville team in 1944 and the Mt. Vernon team that won back-to-back championships in 1949 and 1950.
One of the most famous teams featured during this period was the small school of Hebron, which won in 1952.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that fans of the NCAA basketball tournament began to use the term “March Madness.”
Sports broadcaster Brent Musburger is believed to have popularized March Madness. He had worked in Chicago before he became a CBS employee.