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The Real Truth About March Madness

The time has come—68 teams have gathered for a 19-day single-elimination tournament, and America is riveted. Your odds of correctly guessing every single bracket outcome? 1:9,200,000,000,000 (one in 9.2 quintillion). So, before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, maybe you should learn the real secret to March Madness…

picture of march madness basketball team

March Madness, as the NCAA calls it, has been the Division I Tournament Championship since 1939, when high school official Henry V. Porter joked that basketball season was the time of “March madness.” But, most people still called it the “Division I Championship,” even after the event was broadly televised in 1969. The term “March Madness” didn’t come back into play until 1982, when CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger first used the phrase on live television. And the title became official in 1999, when DirectTV broadcast the season as Mega March Madness.

But how original was this thought? Is it just a matter of convenient alliteration, or has March really got the corner on insanity?

Mad as a March Hare:

March is the beginning of mating season for rabbits, and since rabbits are ill-equipped for the dominance fighting common among the larger and more aggressive mammal species, rabbits have to show off their awesome mating potential in other ways…specifically by sprinting and leaping spastically back and forth across any open land that they can find. Hence the phrase “Mad as a March Hare.”

mad as a march hare

But before you laugh at these furry Lotharios…remember that the average rabbit gets a lot more action than the average male of almost any other mammal species. They aren’t a fertility symbol for nothing.

Ides of March:

If you can recall the days of high-school English, you may remember that Julius Caesar was warned to “beware the Ides of March” (in today’s calendar, March 15th). According to Shakespeare, Caesar’s prophesied doom was foreshadowed by symptoms of madness in Nature. The senator Casca reports that men walked down the street, on fire but not burning; that lions wandered through the capitol; and that owls were hooting at midday. Caesar’s wife Calpurnia also reported complete insanity in the natural order:

A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol;
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
O Caesar! these things are beyond all use,
And I do fear them.

Being the stoic, non-superstitious kind of leader that he was, Caesar ignored all of these warnings

caeser and madness of march

…and was promptly stabbed to death by 60 of his closest friends and colleagues in the Senate building. That’ll teach him to overlook March Madness.

Family Madness:

According to medical statistics, March is the number one month for vasectomies. One theory is that men who were already planning on a vasectomy choose to undergo the procedure in March because it gives them an excuse to stay home for a day and assert their masculinity by yelling at the basketball players and coaches on TV…but it turns out that March is also the month in which pharmacies sell the most home pregnancy kits. (Thank you, Valentine’s Day.) 
Coincidence? We are suspicious.

Meteorological Madness:

We’ve all heard that March goes “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” but the truth is that March really is the most unpredictably weather-volatile month of the year (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). There are a few triggers which make March so crazy:

  1. The transition from persistent winter cold to summer heat.
  2. The longer days, which shift air current patterns.
  3. The March jet stream, which carries cold (in the form of hail, snowstorms, rainfall flooding, coastal flooding, and extreme winds exceeding 100 mph) from Canada down towards Central America.

march weather patterns are mad

So, double up on the hair gel, and invest in a lot of umbrellas, because this brand of March Madness isn’t going anywhere.

[Bonus Fact: In March 1717, a 9-day series of storms dropped more than 25 feet of snow on Dorchester, Massachusetts, burying the town entirely.]

Men are From Mars

Have you ever heard the expression, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”? Well, it turns out that this is the month to get in touch with your masculinity. “March” is derived from “Mars” (or “Martius”) who was not only a planet, but the Roman god of war—presumably because March was the first month when ancient armies first mobilized after being hunkered down for the winter months.

armies mobilize in march

In modern history, there have been a few major conflicts launched in March, including the Vietnam War (March 8, 1965) and the Iraq War (March 20, 2003), but advances in modern clothing, infrastructure, weapons, and transportation have made it possible to go to war at any time of year, and March-initiated conflicts are no longer disproportionately popular.

On the other hand, Venus never got her own month. So, March may be a perfect time to think up your own way to celebrate masculinity. For example…

Cinco de Marcho

Modern men find their own way to make March special, with DIY holidays like “Cinco de Marcho.” Unlike Cinco de Mayo (which commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire), Cinco de Marcho was invented by Carlos Fantastico!, a dedicated blogger who realized three things:

  1. St. Patrick’s Day requires serious drinking stamina.
  2. It might be a good idea to warm up the liver for such a boozy occasion.*
  3. Margaritas are green.

Therefore, it seemed obvious to conclude that drinking margaritas continually from March 5th to March 16th, would perfectly prepare the body and mind for St. Patrick’s Day drinking festivities. And, thus was born, Cinco de Marcho.

*(Said no doctor, ever.)

margarito marcho

[Bonus Fact: Whiskey Margaritas are a thing.]

[Other Bonus Fact: March 26th is officially “Make Your Own Holiday Day.”
Challenge delivered.]

Meanwhile, Back at the Basketball…

March is also the time when Madness strikes in the form of betting fever. Last year, bets related to March Madness were estimated to have exceeded $10 billion (97% of which were placed illegally).

gambling march madness

With that much money at stake, employees across America spend more time organizing betting pools and far less time on actual work—resulting in an estimated $1.9 billion in lost productivity for American business. Businesses might actually come out ahead if they paid their workers a bonus not to participate in the brackets, but is a ban on March Madness likely to happen?

Nah. That’s crazy talk.

Fashion Insanity

And finally…the changing of the seasons also involves a changing of the wardrobe, so it’s time to cast off your sweaters and woolies! Even if you live in Dorchester, planning ahead for the next season’s apparel is the swanky maneuver for dedicated men of fashion. And, in honor of this seasonal transition, Otero Menswear is offering an unprecedented 20% off all Otero clothing and accessories for the final days of March. So, grab your wallet and go crazy! This madness won’t last long.

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