Selection Sunday tips off NCAA M---- M--ness!

03/17/2013 12:01 AM

03/17/2013 12:42 AM

It is Selection Sunday in men’s college basketball, such a treasured national holiday I’m surprised Hallmark doesn’t have a card for it. This is the night when a 10-man selection committee sets the 68-team field and seeds for the NCAA Tournament — when the sport gives birth to the hallowed bracket.

That means Monday will find half the American workforce taking a sick day to recuperate from the physical strain and mental taxation of Selection Sunday, while the other half of the American workforce is on the job eschewing actual work for the business of organizing illegal (wink, wink) office pools.

All of this falls under the broad umbrella, “March Madness” … except we can’t use that phrase, technically.

It is a legal trademark of the NCAA and supposedly may not be used by others in association with a sporting event or anything related to college basketball. So if I refer here to “Mad March-ness,” you’ll know what I mean. Or maybe I’ll go with “March Med-ness,” as if an Irishman were saying it.

The origin of the trademarked phrase actually involves a broadcaster, but not Dick Vitale . It’s Brent Musberger ! Yes, long before he lusted on the air over Miss Alabama, Musberger began referring to the NCAA Tournament as “March Madness” in 1982 on a CBS broadcast.

Why? Because Musberger knew the Illinois High School Association had been referring to its own state basketball tournament as March Madness since the 1940s, when he worked in Chicago.

A trademark infringement suit in 1996 led to a joint venture called the March Madness Athletic Association, which consists only of the NCAA and the IHSA.

Now only they may legally use the phrase, along with the millions more of us scofflaws who routinely do so with no fear of reprisal whatsoever.

Do not kowtow to technicality, Bracket-heads. Stand up for your free-speech rights. Fly your anti-establishment flag and stick it The Man! Raise a fist and join my chant:

“MARCH MADNESS! MARCH MADNESS! MARCH MADNESS …!”

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•  Magic Johnson said Pat Riley told him recently, of his reigning champion Heat on a 20-game winning streak: “We’re not really playing good basketball. We’re playing good enough to beat everybody.” Thus redefining the phrase “hard-to-please boss.”
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• A predictionmachine.com computer simulated the upcoming baseball season 50,000 times and found the Angels to be most likely World Series champ. Cannot confirm the second most likely probability was Marlins fans throwing things at Jeffrey Loria .
•  Dwyane Wade entered Friday night’s game as the first NBA guard since Michael Jordan in 1995-96 with 11 games in a row of 20-plus points on 50 percent-plus shooting. LeBron LeWho!?
• Masters champ Bubba Watson and three other PGA Tour golfers have a group called Golf Boys and just put out a rap record. Bad news: It’s awful. Good news: It’s more original than the name Golf Boys.
•  Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis. With Diego Maradona’s most famous goal in mind, does this make the new pontiff Argentina’s Hand of God II? Pope Francis now leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Coincidentally, that’s also the number of goals Lionel Messi scored last season.
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• Parting thought: The Dolphins spent the past several days lauded as the toast of the NFL while ebullient fans heaped praise on general manager Jeff Ireland . (Was the preceding sentence as strange for you to read as it was for me to write?)

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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