Friday, March 21, 2014

March Productivity Madness

Economists show the proclivity
NCAA March Madness Bracket Dr. GooseToward lamenting the lost productivity
When Americans cling,
From the first day of Spring,
To basketball bracket activity. 

At work we may go to extremes
Of collegiate basketball dreams,
And glance in our laps 
At websites and apps
With brackets and video streams. 

Consultants engaged by the boss
To reckon the March Madness cost
Deduce from the gauges
Of hours and wages
That 1.2 billion are lost.

But a national payroll statistic
As a measure is much too simplistic,
As workers are apt
In March to adapt
In a manner that's deft and holistic.

Despite how the experts may warn
That brackets are worthy of scorn,
It's easy to see
For office esprit,
They're better than downloading porn. 

"March Madness" - the NCAA College Basketball Tournement - is upon us.  Millions of Americans, having filled out their "brackets", now seize moments throughout the day and night to see how their picks are faring.  (My own bracket - pictured above - is off to a good start, having correctly predicted 12 of the first 14 contests.)   Of course, one's bracketology is now a hot topic of workplace discussion, even for those who normally pay scarce attention to college hoops.

Naturally, the productivity scolds over at Challenger, Gray & Christmas want to throw a wet blanket over all the bracketology banter.  They calculate that March Madness could cost employers $1.2 billion in lost production, as workers weigh the merits of Duke vs. Michigan and organize office pools.  This is based on 50 million Americans each wasting an hour on bracket-building, betting and boasting, at an average hourly wage of $24.31.

Not to worry, counters Jena McGregor in the Washington Post; the estimated productivity effects are overblown.  She quotes Duke's Prof. Charles Clotfelter, who studied the March Madness phenomenon and concluded:
"Besides the possible boost in morale associated with this annual ritual, common sense suggests that those who follow successful teams will come to anticipate success and simply learn to budget their time, making sure to leave enough time to watch their team play. For those who expect their team to lose, the opposite occurs: They can plan to work after their cherished team goes down in defeat."
So, how's your bracket doing?


  1. Nicely done! I have to say, though, that the only two things I never waste my time at are brackets and porn.

    Then again, I'm NOT a guy. :)

    1. Well then, I must appreciate the compliment even more so - thanks!

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