Campus News

Talk on March 28 to Feature the History of Basketball’s March Madness

In the midst of the season itself, Dr. Chad Carlson of the Hope College kinesiology faculty, who is the author of a history of March Madness, will explore the origins and impact of national championships in basketball.

He will present “Why March Madness Matters: Reflections on a Popular Sporting Event’s Forgotten History” at Hope on Wednesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication through the Department of History’s colloquium series.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

In his talk, Carlson, who is an assistant professor of kinesiology and coach of the junior varsity men’s basketball team at Hope, will describe the ways in which college basketball’s post-season tournaments began and grew through and alongside inauspicious national conditions.  He will reflect on exploring the implications of the tournaments’ conception during the Great Depression, their birth amid escalating international tensions, their survival during World War II and their growth during the post-war boom.

Carlson’s book “Making March Madness: The Early Years of the NCAA, NIT and College Basketball Championships, 1922-1951” was published in 2017.  He spent four years working on the 447-page volume, including multiple research trips to the archives at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, University of Kansas and NCAA.

Although the first national tournament was held in 1922 by the Indianapolis Junior Chamber of Commerce, continuing intercollegiate national-title post-season play was still several years off.  It began with a national tournament hosted by the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) in 1937, followed by the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) in 1938 and the NCAA tournament in 1939.

This year’s Final Four in Division I will take place on March 31 and April 2 for men’s basketball, and on March 30 and April 1 for women’s basketball.  This year’s NCAA’s Division III tournament for both men and women in basketball concluded on March 16 and 17.  Hope’s men’s team and women’s team each competed in this year’s Division III tournaments.

Carlson’s research is focused broadly on the socio-cultural aspects of sport.  In the classroom, his work focuses on the philosophy of sport, the history of sports and their role in cultural trends, and the connection between sports and Christianity.  He is co-directing, with Dr. Brian Bolt of Calvin College, the second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity, which will be held in October 2019 at Calvin.

A member of the Hope faculty since 2014, Carlson is a 2003 Hope graduate.  He earned his Master of Arts degree in the health, physical education and recreation, and pedagogy program at Western Michigan University, and his doctorate in kinesiology and the history/philosophy of sport program at Penn State University. Before coming to Hope, he was an assistant professor, assistant chair and graduate program coordinator at Eastern Illinois University.

The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located at 257 Columbia Ave., at the corner of Columbia Avenue and 10th Street.