Let the madness begin

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off in earnest today, marking the beginning of the best two days in sports for bracketologists.

It’s called March Madness for a reason. You don’t have to be a sports fan or know anything about college basketball to fill out a bracket. Office pools are ubiquitous this time of year. Many are won by people who don’t follow college basketball at all. Which is why we see a flurry of news stories about worker productivity taking a hit.

Computer networks get clogged with traffic as people stream video feeds and check scores. Internet speeds slow down and bandwidth is strained to the max.

Companies that allow employees to celebrate March Madness at work, however, may emerge as the real winners, a new OfficeTeam survey suggests. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of senior managers interviewed said activities tied to the college basketball playoffs boost employee morale, and more than one-quarter (27 percent) felt March Madness has a positive impact on worker productivity.

One thing is for certain. The tournament has become part of our social fabric. Legal betting on March Madness now exceeds betting on the Super Bowl. And that’s peanuts compared to the amount wagered illegally through bookies and office pools.

The odds of correctly picking the outcome of every game are so remote that Quicken Loans and Warren Buffet are offering $1 billion through an online contest to the person who can do it.

Optimism will be high at the tipoff of today’s game. It doesn’t last long, as dark horses fall and long shots knock off higher seeds.

So, let’s dispense with the productivity debate and face facts.

The 5-12 matchup has a rich history of upsets.


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