Ag Lit Bit“Corn Syrup?”
As March approaches I am excited to leave behind the crazy weather of February and enjoy the traditions of March including leprechauns, the first day of spring, National Ag Day, daylight savings time (March 10th) and March Madness.
I really wasn’t a follower of basketball some 30 years ago, but I became painfully aware of March Madness as our wedding day happened to be the day that Illinois played Michigan in the Final Four losing 81-83. With many Illini fans at the reception it was inevitable that we’d lose some guests to the hotel bar to keep tabs on the score. While I don’t feel ancient, there were no cell phones back then and no other way keep tabs on a game or news event.
I’ve gained interest in following the tournaments over the years as my three sons typically had some interest or my friends discussed their brackets. The first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament was in 1939, and it has been held every year since. It started with 8 teams and kept expanding to the 68-team format. March Madness was first used to refer to basketball by an Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter, in 1939, but the term didn’t find its way to the NCAA tournament until CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger used it during coverage of the 1982 tournament.
Always being cognizant of connecting everything back to agriculture, March Madness was an easy one that we have used in classrooms and camp programs. Trust me when I say kids love learning about ag through the lens of sports. Ever think about the wood floor? ESPN ran a great piece a few years back that shared the process of making the floor for the 2017 tournament in Phoenix. It includes the fact that 500 trees were harvested for the floor, among other facts. (http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/18985386/from-tree-tipoff)
The connections don’t stop with the floor as the game requires tickets (more trees), food such as hot dogs (pigs), buns (wheat), cheesy nachos (cows, corn), player jerseys/socks (cotton), fuel for team buses (soybeans) and even the basketballs (cows). Then there’s the beer including hops, barley and dare I mention corn syrup (Bud Light has been backpedaling since their Superbowl ad which riled up corn farmers). Have a great March and enjoy the vast connections to agriculture!