The Origin of Sports Tournament Brackets--Family Tree Pedigree Charts?
Back in March 2012 a friend who knew I was an enthusiastic genealogist, gave me an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal. I was sorting through some stacks of paper on my desk yesterday and ran across the article. I am sure I am not the only person with stacks of papers and files on their desk that date back a year or two (or more)! The article, dated March 15, 2012, was written by Rachel Bachman.
It was a three quarter page article entitled "Where Was the Bracket Born?" and discussed various theories about the origin of Sports Tournament Brackets. One of those theories was put forth by the President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Brenton Simons. "It's not hard to imagine that those charts and lineage tables were the inspiration for the sports brackets", Simons said, "because they really mirror the shapes being used in family history where you have to convey succession. In sports it's succession of winners, in family history it's succession of generations."
The article pointed out that "Nobody knows for sure where the idea came from". It is interesting to think, however, that family history charts might have been the inspiration for them. However, it should be noted that Pedigree Charts start with one person and grow by a factor of two each generation to multiple ancestors (eight after four generations); whereas, sports brackets start with multiple teams and gradually decrease by the same factor (two) down to one winner--essentially they are a mirror image of each other.
Now you have a bit of trivia you can discuss when you next see your friends who are sports enthusiasts!
Cindy Crawford on WDYTYA
Tuesday night's edition of WDYTYA featured Cindy Crawford, the famous fashion model. Most of the show focused on tracing her ancestry back to Thomas Trowbridge, Cindy's 10th great grandfather. She traced him back to the 1640s in Taunton, England, where he was a Captain in the Parliamentary Army fighting to depose King Charles. He had come to America in the early 1630; but his wife apparently died and he left his children there and returned to England.
However, roughly the final one third of the program shifted gears to tracing Cindy's lineage back to Charlemagne. The Family Tree Blog related that about 1000 hours went into producing the one hour program. This was evident from the various charts that were revealed tracing her back an additional 30 generations from Thomas Trowbridge to Charlemagne. I particularly enjoyed learning, along with Cindy, about Charlemagne as a person.
As pointed out in The Genealogy Insider "When you
go back 40 generations, and you have roughly a trillion ancestors—more than the number of people who existed at the time Charlemagne lived. (Virtually all family trees have consanguineous marriages, so the same person will appear in multiple places in a tree.)"
My research indicates that two to the 40th power (Charlemagne was supposedly Cindy's 40th great grandfather) is 1,099,511,627,776 (roughly a trillion) which is about 2300 times the size of the population in the year 800 (480 million people). Thus, if we could be lucky enough to be able to trace our lineage back that far; most of us could claim to be descendants of Charlemagne! It also helps that he had 20 children.
From other research I have done, it appears that the key to being able to trace your ancestors a long way back in European history; is to discover royalty in your family line. Once you find a link with European Royalty, excellent records seem to have been kept over many hundreds of years documenting their ancestry. However, for most of us, finding that link with Royalty can be very elusive. I am certainly not there--yet!
I enjoyed the program and enjoyed gaining some insight into Cindy Crawford's personality. She seemed to be a very likable person (for more reasons than her physical attributes).