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Though it be March Madness, There's a Method to it: Ithaca College Professor Explains

 ITHACA, NY — The NCAA’s March Madness is an annual men’s basketball tournament that will be held this year from March 11 to April 2. Why do people skip work to watch it? What would prompt an employer to think that a good way to promote employee morale during March is to set up multiple television sets in the employee lounge? And why would fans at the tournament games take part in a chorus of obscene chants directed at an opposing player’s grandmother?

“What motivates fans to become involved in sporting events reflects economic, cultural and attitudinal developments in society at large,” said Annemarie Farrell, assistant professor of sport management and media at Ithaca College. “Fans will behave at sporting events in ways they would never consider if they had been watching the game on television in their living rooms. At the same time, sport gives people the chance to learn valuable lessons about leadership and team play. March Madness brings out the best and worst in the people who get caught up in it.”

As part of her assigned coursework on the sociology of sport, Farrell assigns her students to go into taverns during March Madness, observe the patrons, and interview them to find out why they’re not at home or at work instead of watching teams that, in many cases, they’re seeing play for the first time.

Farrell has an active interest in fan deviance, Title IX law and how media representation of female athletes affects consumers. She has presented widely on these topics at numerous peer-reviewed conferences, including the North American Society for Sport Management, Sport Marketing Association, and the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.

Farrell can be contacted at (607) 274-5783 or