March Madness: Good For Fans, Bad For Business | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

March Madness: Good For Fans, Bad For Business

Play associated audio

March Madness is here. Even President Obama has filled out a NCAA Division I men's college basketball tournament bracket. His pick to win it all was Indiana University.

The bracket frenzy is unbelievable, says Deborah Stroman, who teaches sports administration at the University of North Carolina.

"Right after the selection show for the teams," she says, "within three hours, at least 693,000 brackets were filled out. So you can imagine everything that was taking place — everything from the research, to calling your friends, to placing bets."

But there is a cost. A recent study estimated the springtime mania costs American companies at least $134 million in the first two days alone. Fans all over the country know why: The games are simply too distracting.

Lucas Lux, a University of Kansas fan, told NPR, "If Kansas played at 12:15 p.m., there's no way I could work, and at that point it would probably have to be a vacation day."

But many employees try to multitask instead. Jerry Webber, the owner of a record shop in Pittsburgh, explained that at his shop they would watch the games during the workday. "Sometimes we drink beer and have a little bottle of bourbon and take a shot too," he said. "It's the illusion of working."

Stroman says the loss of worker productivity during March Madness has a lot to do with psychological investment in the games. "You have people who actually become so engaged with their teams that they take on the ownership of that team," she tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Don Gonyea.

She calls that effect, "basking in reflected glory," or "BIRG-ing." She says it can distract employees from their work for days or even weeks after a big win.

The opposite effect, she says, is called "cutting of reflected failure," or "CORF-ing," which is when a loss provokes depression in die-hard fans. This, too, distracts workers from their jobs.

But, Stroman says, there is a silver lining for employers. Some employees will turn only part of their attention to games during the workday, and others will likely come in early or stay late to make up for those distracted hours.

Some fans even say a win could make them better employees in the long run. Lux says March Madness is actually good for his productivity, but only if the University of Kansas wins.

"Especially if Kansas goes far in the tournament, I'll be stoked for the next 12 months," he says. After the team's win Friday night, he's BIRGing — at least for now.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

What Are The Secrets of Centenarians?

To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner studies the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live longer than anyone else on the planet.
NPR

Census Reveals Universe Of Marine Microbes At Bottom Of The Food Chain

The ocean's tiniest inhabitants — including bacteria, plankton, krill — are food for most everything that swims or floats. Now, scientists have completed a count of this vast and diverse hidden world.
NPR

Irish Voters Decide Whether To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Polls show the "yes" vote is stronger in the conservative, predominately Catholic country. But public opinion surveys could be masking a "shy no vote," observers say.
NPR

Mechanical Turk Workers: Secret Cogs In The Internet Marketplace

There are hundreds of thousands of people doing stuff to your Internet experience that you may think is the work of an algorithm. They're working from home doing tiny tasks computers can't quite do.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.