The history of the March Madness bracket

Originally published at: The history of the March Madness bracket | Boing Boing


As the history nerds like to say, everything has a history!


So, let me get this straight, you USians call a knockout tournament a “bracket”?


I think it only refers to the plan of matches in the tournament, or a diagram of that plan, not the tournament itself. So I would say “did you see the Bracket? UW is getting screwed” I would not say “I’m glad UW was invited to the bracket”.


I like this; it’ll allow me to refer to all non-Americans as “Otherplaceistans”.

As for your “knockout tournament” reference, sort of works like this; the bracket is the set of games to be played, and we’ll say “the bracket is set” but once things are under way, we refer to the ongoing proceedings as a “tourney”. If an unlikely team proceeds further than projected, that team is called a “bracket buster”, while the top-ranked teams are still called “likely tourney champs”.

In other news, I lost some money gambling on the NCAA bracket. Touch of death I tell you, the moment I put money on a team they’d suddenly contract the flu the night before the big game.

1 Like

No “othering”, thank you.

USians or non-USians.

ETA it would be Otherplaceistanis, anyway.

1 Like

Whew. I thought this was a straightout sports post and I’m like, do you know where you are?!?

But then it goes into chess and history and trivia and balance was restored.

This brings up another linguistic difference. Correct me if I’m wrong, but to USians, only these [ ] are brackets.

In Irish and Commonwealth English, “brackets” is a general term for enclosing punctuation marks, which can be of the sub-types square [ ], round (), curly{} or angle <>. In American usage, these are more commonly referred to as brackets[ ], parentheses(), braces{} and chevrons <>

1 Like

I believe you are technically correct (the best kind of correct) and that we also ‘properly’ call them those too over here, but most people, in common parlance (and on both sides of the pond, I’ll warrant), call parentheses ‘brackets’ most likely because they’ve never heard of parentheses and wouldn’t know how to pronounce it if they saw it.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.