Short shot #42: Championship season

In the U.S., the 2010 college basketball tournaments (for men and for women) are coming to an end — either winding down, or reaching a climax, depending on how you look at things — so let’s take a quick look at the terminology surrounding these events.

The series of championship games is known as March Madness, because it mostly takes place in March (not entirely, because the tournaments are still going on, and it’s April) and because of the fans’ frenzy over the games. Each tournament is an elimination. It starts with the Sweet Sixteen, then the teams are whittled down to the Elite Eight, and then to the Final Four.

Yes, alliteration all the way, from March Madness on down (though in Elite Eight the effect is only orthographic).

Language play, especially alliteration, assonance, rhyme, and punning, is everywhere, but it’s especially dense in certain contexts, which are not “about” joking, poetry, or the like (“ludic locales”, I’ve called them). Sports talk is one of these ludic locales.

One Response to “Short shot #42: Championship season”

  1. Kyle Says:

    The tournaments don’t start with Sweet Sixteen, that’s actually the third round. It’s just that no one has come up with a clever name for the rounds of 32 and 64/65. [Nor, for that matter, for the round of two, though no one is going to forget a championship game.]

    Also, it’s not unheard of to pronunce elite as /eɪˈliːt/, and I’d have to imagine it’s more common in this context.

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