March Madness is a special time of the year for basketball fans; it is the excitement surrounding the Illinois state college basketball tournaments. The beginning of March introduces the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament. Teams from colleges all over the country compete to claim the national championship. There are a total of 68 teams competing in seven rounds. At the end of the sixth round, four teams continue to the penultimate round also known as the Final Four. Fans gather to watch the remaining four teams compete to determine which team will take the title of the next U.S. national champion.
The NCAA was founded on March 31st, 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. The initial reason for the NCAA was not basketball, however; it was formed to preserve football as a college sport. Around the early 1900s, no less than forty-five football players had suffered fatal in-game injuries. Most of these players died from head injuries, broken necks, internal damage, or broken backs. Roosevelt assembled a meeting consisting of many coaches and athletic advisers proceeding to discuss how to make the game safer, which led to Roosevelt modifying a few rules and safety regulations to make sure the players were protected from injury. To raise awareness for basketball in the NCAA, a group of teams from Lincoln, Illinois known as the "Sweet Sixteen"attempted to promote Illinois basketball in times before there was television and national media. Little did they know, basketball fever was already on the rise.
Fast forward to March 17th 1939: the NCAA held its very first Division 1 men’s basketball tournament, which is known as March Madness today. The first tournament consisted of eight teams. After these games, the two remaining teams, The University of Oregon and Ohio State University, played the final round at Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, Illinois. Oregon defeated Ohio State 46–33 on March 27th, 1939.
Today’s version of March Madness is very different from the early days of the NCAA. One example of this is “The Happening,” a thrilling contest featuring the country's best three-point shooters and is now an extra part of these tournaments. The team count was also raised. In earlier times there were about eight teams competing in the tournament. In 1951, the number of teams was raised to 16, and 34 years later it was increased to 64. As of November 2021 the number consisted of 68 teams. March Madness has a major influence on basketball around the world and nearly 700,000 fans go to watch the basketball tournament every year. Basketball is already a very popular sport in the United States, but there is much more in store for the future as the game becomes more popular every year.
With Saint Patrick's Day right around the corner, and everyone is getting ready for the little leprechauns to be out. Leprechauns come from Irish folktales, and are usually depicted as small bodied, short bearded men wearing green coats and hats with mischievous behavior. The leprechaun can be dated all the way back to the ninth century. Celtic history plays a big part in the leprechauns' past, as that is where people believe they had originated. Since they have been around for centuries, they have evolved into the short little green man that steals people's gold. They have also been depicted as shoe makers, with their pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow.
Irish folklore has depicted these creatures as alcohol stealing thieves, probably an excuse for drinking all their goods. The earliest reference to these creatures is a medieval tale known as Echtra Fergus mac Leti, or Adventures of Fergus, Son of Leti. The tale follows Fergus Mac Leti, the king of Ulster. He falls asleep on the beach and wakes up to three small, bearded creatures dragging him into the sea. The King Leti then proceeds to capture his abductors, The leprechauns then grant him three wishes in return for their freedom. Leprechauns have also become very popular during the month of march, as Saint Patrick's Day is March 17th. This is the day where people dress all up in green and pinch each other for not wearing green. It is also when people cause some mayhem, and pull crazy pranks on each other. Leprechauns are tricksters and play practical jokes, which people are very amused by these pranks. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated all across the world, and everyone celebrates it differently; in the core of it, there is almost always some leprechaun-like creature. In America, Leprechauns have been used as slogans, mascots, and more. For instance the Boston Celtics, an NBA Basketball team's mascot is Lucky the Leprechaun. He is a small bodied person with clovers all over his green shirt, a pipe, and a top hat. Lucky has clovers all over him, as the clover is a representation of Ireland. There are three leaf clovers, which were leaves that were very common in Ireland. There is also a four leafed clover which is supposed to represent luck. That's why these leprechauns are so lucky. Another one is Lucky Charms cereal, whose mascot is also a leprechaun named Lucky, but he is dressed in all green, with fancy shoes and a single four-leafed clover sticking from his hat.
From Ireland to America, the folklore has had much research and conspiracies, and there will be more to come. The tale of the leprechaun will stay the same.
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