Work or basketball? It's a toss up

March 13, 2013 at 12:43 PM
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CHICAGO, March 13 (UPI) -- Chances are fair that U.S. firms will see productivity slide while the NCAA Division 1 college basketball tournament is on the tube, an employment firm said.

The men's Division 1 tournament, an event generally billed as "March Madness" is a major distraction for U.S. workers, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Wednesday.

In a recent survey, the firm said percentage of worker watching a game during work hours was approaching mass treason.

The firm said one third of U.S. workers expect to spend three hours per day watching the tournament during work hours.

The firm said the annual survey was "hated by working basketball fans everywhere."

For employers, the survey is a reminder of lost wage and, perhaps, futility.

The firm said $134 million was the value of "lost wages" during the first two days of the tournament alone.

The first round of the tournament begins with 64 teams, which are whittled down to 32, then 16, at which point there is a break before round two begins.

In turn, the second round begins with 16 teams and goes to eight, then four. That means, as the tournament progresses, the impact on productivity diminishes because there are fewer games.

On the other hand, it is likely that interest swells for the "Final Four," weekend, which begins with four and ends with one surviving championship team.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said three million workers will spend one to three hours watching basketball "instead of working," during the first two days of the tournament.

Putting the event in perspective, "at the end of the day, March Madness will not even register as a blip in the overall economy," said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.

"Sequestration is going to have a far bigger impact," he said.

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