Basketball fans will recognize the phrase “March Madness” as a reference to the annual NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament. It consists of 68 teams playing for the championship. According to, this phrase has been used to refer to basketball since 1908. Apparently, it was used then regarding a major high-school basketball tournament in Illinois. The NCAA’s later efforts to co-opt the label resulted in legal action.

But the phase is actually much older. The saying, “as mad as a March hare” appeared as early as the sixteenth century. At that time, it seemed to refer to the European hares (similar to rabbits) behaving very wildly during breeding season, which happens in spring – often in March.

This year, March Madness has taken on a different meaning for me: It is the bizarre situation most of us find ourselves in, as a result of quarantines due to the COVID-19 virus. The rapid spread of this pandemic has caused governmental and non-governmental organizations to impose (or at least to urge) “shelter-in-place” strategies as a way to avoid getting infected or spreading infection.

As a result, many people are working from home, telecommuting where possible, but other people are out of work. The financial insecurity generated by this situation is at least worrisome for most, but it can be disastrous for some.

Regular readers of the Foundation’s newsletter will know that I typically end the Chair’s Report in TIRF Today with an exhortation for you to give to TIRF. We realize, however, that supporting nonprofit organizations at this time will be difficult for many to do. When the pandemic is over (and it will subside at some point), I would encourage you to continue to support charitable causes like TIRF’s when you are able, as many such organizations will be feeling the effects of this worldwide tragedy for a long time.

In the meantime, I want to share with you some thoughts about the coronavirus from Father Jim Greenfield, the President of DeSales University. You can think of this text as a prayer or a credo or a reminder – or even just as words of sanity and wisdom during this particular era of March Madness:

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

Best wishes,


Koener, B. (2010). Why is it called “March Madness”? Retrieved from