For the Love of March Madness



My newly divorced dad was trying to connect to me, his teenaged daughter. Munching my breakfast cereal, Dad placed the sports section of the Seattle Post Intelligencer in front of me. He quickly explained how the NCAA basketball tournament worked. The Seattle PI was offering a contest—the best bracket would win a trip to Hawaii. Basketball didn’t enthuse me, but scanning the prizes, I thought, why not?





Folding the paper, Dad said we’d begin our research that evening. Research? I had real homework to do. How hard could it be to pick winners and losers? But that was all part of the fun according to Dad.



This was before the Internet, so researching college teams wasn’t easy. We relied on newspapers, magazines, and radio commentary. On my way home from school I went to the library and checked out old newspapers and magazines. Yes, that’s how we used to do it way back then.

For the next several evenings, Dad and I perused dozens of sports commentaries and plotted the course of teams we’d never seen play.  I went from having zero interest to being nearly obsessed with creating the perfect bracket. Carefully writing the teams on each line, we filled out our own brackets and mailed the entries. 



Fast-forward to today, 60 million Americans submit tournament brackets. Estimates reach upwards of $1.9 billion in losses due to employee distraction.  Oh yeah, baby. I get that. Homework slid during my March Madness extravaganza.










But something else happened. During a raw season of divorce, my dad and I got closer. We shared an experience that lasted just a few weeks, but not really. It has lasted my lifetime, because I remember it fondly today—and his words—"we'll always have some wins and losses, but who we become afterwards, that's up to us."


So if employers are worried about lost concentration and workday game monitoring, step back and consider that the co-worker camaraderie could very well be worth any time lost. Why? Because bringing us closer together is the best way to end a basketball season and begin a new season in life.


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