The NCAA College Basketball Tournament
Each March, college basketball fans receive a treat. They watch 64-plus teams compete for the NCAA national championship in a winner take-all tournament. It is win or go home, with squads playing around two games a week, sometimes with only a night’s rest.
In the last round, known as the Final Four, the best head to the appointed city for the championship game and a spot in history. The tears on the faces of the winners, as well as the losers, provide acknowledgement of just how much this tournament means to athletes, coaches and fans.
More Fans Are Watching March Madness in the 21st Century
March Madness is extremely popular and is growing ever more so. The 2015 tournament had the largest television viewership in the last 22 years. Over 11.3 million people watched the games on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV, according to Nielsen ratings. The last-highest ratings came back in 1993, when 12.7 million enjoyed the event.
Given that today’s society features a plethora of entertainment options, from social media to hundreds of cable channels, that the fan base for March Madness has grown rather than shrank is a testament to its vitality.
NCAA Basketball Tournament Gambling is Big Business
Betting on the NCAA basketball tournament during March Madness has become a national obsession. Professional gambling, such as the official odds taken in Las Vegas, amount to over $60 million. Meanwhile, untold amounts change hands in office pools.
Newspaper and sports websites now conveniently provide printable bracket listings of all the teams in the tournament. Gamblers need only to cross out a team after a defeat and move another forward following a victory, to keep track of their progress.
The NCAA Itself Makes Money From the Games
Cities vie hard to host tournament games of March Madness, especially the Final Four round. Thousands of fans congregate in the chosen sites to enjoy the frenetic atmosphere. Hotels sell out and restaurants remain busy all day. Everyone makes money from the tournament.
The NCAA itself has become increasingly rich from tournament television rights. In 2010, NCAA officials negotiated a $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Networks, giving the media giants broadcast rights until 2024.
Be a Part of Sports History
All one has to do to be a part of the NCAA tournament is catch a few games on television or online. Better yet, they can travel to the Final Four city.
Here are the Final Four host cities from 2016 to 2021: