Every year millions of people all over the country gather at Final Four Fetes — not to mention at the many March Madness viewing parties leading up to the big day. If you’re hosting a college basketball bash this March, why risk tossing up a big old airball when you can throw a slam dunk soiree instead?
Read on for a roundup of all things March Madness — including everything from its history to fun facts to party planning tips — all aimed at helping you pull off an epic game day gathering.
What’s So Great About March Madness?
You may be wondering what make March Madness standout from other sporting events. Perhaps The Best Schools Magazine puts it best in summing up the annual month-long event’s appeal as follows: “March 17th kicks off the most intense, compelling and unpredictable four-day stretch in all of sports. Sixty-four teams will enter the ring but only 16 will emerge. Dick Vitale will yell through your television about how awesome it is. Craig Sager will wear a suit that was repurposed from a Brady Bunch davenport. And from that Sweet Sixteen will rise a champion … .But beyond that, nothing is guaranteed.”
So whether you’re new to the whole March Madness hubbub or you’re a lifelong enthusiast of this annual event, you’ve still got a shot at predicting the winner.
Concludes TBS Magazine writer David A. Tomar, “The March Madness bracket is one of the beautiful equalizers in the world of sports prognostication. When it comes to making predictions, we’re all equal parts genius and fool.”
In other words, from early upsets to unexpected upshots, March Madness is fun for everyone because it’s anyone’s game.
But that’s not all. According to Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, there’s yet another reason why this tourney is tops: its unique “knockout nature.” Writes Deford, “It’s the largest national single-elimination competition anywhere in the world. Every game, all 67 of them, the losing team is sent home. Season over. Voted off the island. TKO: Team Knockout. In a nation that prides itself on second chances, there are none. No (more) we’ll get ’em tomorrow back home. No interminable seven-game series. The finality of the NCAAs is as vicarious for us watching as it is terminal for the losers.”
March Madness Tidbits and Trivia
Looking to get in the March Madness mindset before your bash? These tidbits may be just what you’re looking for.
- When Duke took home the crown in 2015 while an average 33.4 million viewers turned in, the win was an unexpected one: only 9.3 percent of the 11.57 million Tournament Challenge brackets had picked the Blue Devils to win, according to ESPN.
- The average price of a 30-second advertisement is roughly $1.5 million, also according to WalletHub.
- According to Slate, the term “March Madness” was first associated with basketball at the high school level in 1939, when an Illinois High School Association(IHSA) official wrote of an annual statewide tournament, “”A little March Madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” it didn’t make its way to NCAA coverage until CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger used it in 1982. This led to a legal clash with the former seeking to trademark the title, and the latter contending that it had a common-law trademark on the phrase and therefore could license it at will. Finally, the IHSA and the NCAA joined forces to form a joint holding company, the March Madness Athletic Association, allowing both to control the name on their respective levels. (Oddly enough, a similar battle latter occurred between the Kentucky high School Athletic Association and the NCAA over the phrase, “Sweet 16.”
- Think you’ve finally filled out a flawless bracket? Think again. Says US News and World Report, “The likelihood of all of your selections being correct is slim, to say the least, with calculations running from about 1 in 9 quintillion to the better-by-comparison 1 in 128 billion. There is no record of anyone ever beating these overwhelming odds.” Can’t quite wrap your mind around those numbers? US News and World Report further reveals that your chances of being elected president of the country, getting hit by lightning, or being eaten by a shark are all higher than your chance of assembling a perfect bracket. (But none of this means you can’t have fun trying!)
- Corporate losses due to unproductive workers during March Madness were estimated at $1.9 billion in 2016, according to WalletHub.
- According to Time Magazine, March Madness is also associated with a very different phenomenon: A rise in vasectomies among the country’s sport-loving men. Contends writer Brad Tuttle, “Vasectomy clinics report spikes in appointments around March Madness, presumably from men who feel that there’s no better period than tourney time to recover from the briefly painful procedure. The recovery involves little more than a few days of guilt-free sitting and icing one’s nether regions. And since you’re immobile for a spell thanks to doctor’s orders, why not see if there are any good games on TV?”
March Madness Party Planning Tips
Now that you’re the authority on all things March Madness, it’s time to get your party on. Whether you’re planning on hosting regular get-togethers up until the big day or waiting for the Final Four, these seven tips can help you make sure you’re ready.
1. Have a Plan
The best parties don’t magically happen — even if they feel like they do. Rather, they involve advance planning which takes into account even the smallest details. While waiting until the last minute can result in a stressful situation — not to mention inferior outcomes — planning ahead can help you come out on top.
2. Make a List
From who you’re inviting to how much food and beverages you’ll need, a list can help keep you on track while also sparing you from overlooking anything important. The best part? This list can become a resource for you — year after year. (Just set aside time after your party to review and revise based on what worked and what didn’t.)
3. Get the Word Out
Whether you’re inviting just a small group of family members or your entire squad, getting the word out earlier can help ensure that everyone is available to join in the fun. From formal invites to casual e-vites, there are many different ways to inform your guest list about the details. But remember — your invitation sets the tone for the entire event, so make sure it’s a good one!
4. Think Theme
Having a theme can also help promote a festive feel at your March Madness or Final Four bash. Whether you send out game brackets as your party invitations, encourage all of your guests to bust out their college sweatshirts or simply embrace the unmistakable black and orange color theme, there are plenty of simple, easy ways to make your party an unforgettable one.
5. Set the Mood
Speaking of setting the tone, make sure your space is appropriately “dressed for the occasion.” Balloons, basketballs, streamers, pendants, and foam fingers can all help promote a festive feel at any March Madness party. A super-sized tournament bracket can also help get people mingling and debating their picks while setting up a miniature basketball hoop and providing foam balls for your guests to toss around can help keep the energy up.
6. Put Viewing First
Don’t get so caught up in the details of your party planning that you forget about the whole purpose of the event: watching the game. A widescreen television is a must-have if you’re hosting die-hard sports fans. Also, make sure you have a comfortable viewing area for your guests to gather with plenty of seating and a clear path to food and libations.
7. Focus on the Food
Speaking of food, March Madness and food go together like basketball players and cool kicks. The right food can make or break your bash so make sure to have plenty of delicious game day food at the ready.
But if you’ve ever tried to host a party while also watching a game, you probably already know that it doesn’t always go well. Rather than trying to do it all yourself, try a secret party trick used by all of the best’s hosts and hostesses: outsourcing. Gourmet mail order food is sure to satisfy all of your guests’ hungry hankerings without keeping you in the kitchen all afternoon.
Just remember, feeding sports fans is a lot like feeding a basketball team. Order plenty. Wings, burgers and hot dogs, sausage, pizza, cold cuts, meatballs, and barbecue are easy delicious ways to please a crowd.
And don’t forget dessert. Winning team fans will be eager to savor the sweet taste of victory, while those on the losing side will need some cheering up in the form of pie, chocolate, ice cream, and other sweet treats.
One last reason March Madness means so much? As Kantar Media Chief Research Officer Jon Swallen told USA Today, with football over, hockey still in its main season, and baseball yet to come, March Madness remains as a “great, protected space on the sports calendar.” In other words, people are ripe to party heading into March Madness season. Are you ready to make the winning play by hosting a bash of your own? Get the jump on menu planning by shopping foods today.