March Madness means loss in productivity in the workplace

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - You don't have to be a college basketball fan to get caught up in March Madness. The tournament started Thursday, and you can catch many of the games on WTOL 11.

"It's the best time of the year," says Notre Dame fan, Shane Connolly. "I pick them every year to win, so hopefully this is the year. "

Connolly was watching the games at Fricker's in downtown Toledo. He says it's his day off and he also took the next few days off to watch the first round of the tournament.

Beckett Baither was also watching at Fricker's. She's rooting for Villanova, but only because she picked them to win the whole tournament. For her, March Madness is more about the experience.

"Hanging out with my family and watching basketball and drinking beer, eating food," Baither said.

Sounds fun, right?

Many of the fans at Fricker's didn't want to go on camera because they blew off work to be there to watch the first day of the tournament.

B.J. Fischer with Thread Marketing Group says there's a $4 billion loss in productivity in the first two days of the tournament. Fourteen percent of people call in sick Thursday and Friday and about six percent take the two days off.

"The Super Bowl is at night. The NBA playoffs is at night. The World Series is at night. But this actually takes place during the work day on Thursday and Friday of this week and that's usually when all the big upsets happen," said Fischer.

Fischer says between 40 and 50 million people have filled out a bracket, and 80 percent of people who do go to work are streaming at least part of a game in the first two days of the tournament.

"Obviously it's very difficult to ban, even if you ban it over your WI-FI, people can watch it over their data connections," said Fischer.

There are some positives of March Madness in the workplace, including team building and a sense of community.

"A lot of employers are finding it now to be a positive thing," Fischer said. "It's fun. Get people involved in all of the office. Everybody can participate."

Since Shane Connolly's Irish barely made it through the first round, you never know who is going to be upset and that's part of the excitement the tournament brings.

"You want to see those Cinderella stories," said Connolly.

And fans will tune into those stories, even if it means slacking off for a couple hours at work.

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