Monthly Archives: March 2006

More on Bracketology

Slate has picked up on the bogus statistics about lost productivity from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. They also link to my article on the topic which can be found here.

Also, the Numbers Guy at the Wall Street Journal points out that your adds of accurately predicting every game on your bracket correctly is about one in 150 million. Read the whole thing.

My latest at TCS Daily

Here is a sneak peak of my latest at TCS Daily:

March Madness is upon us. If you are like me, you have likely spent an exorbitant amount of time filling out the brackets for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Although I have long realized that I will never master the art of picking all the correct teams, I never thought that I could possibly be hurting the economy. However, a recent study shows that avid sports fans are costing U.S. companies billions of dollars in lost productivity. Could they be right?

Continued at TCS Daily.com . . .

The Economics of March Madness

Every March at least one major newspaper or media outlet highlights a study that claims that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament costs U.S. companies millions of dollars in productivity. This year the Boston Globe falls victim to this nonsense.

The story makes for a great headline, but does the NCAA Tournament really cost companies $3.8 billion? Doubtfully.

The study is conducted by using wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and time spent on ESPN’s website during last year’s tournament. The study finds that the average worker spends 13.5 minutes per day on ESPN.com getting the latest news and results. Using the wage data to calculate the firm then estimates the cost to U.S. companies.

Clearly this is not a scientific study.  First, there is no clarification on how they determine who is actually at work when visiting the ESPN website.  Are they working?  Is the site left in the background of their workspace and thus resulting in longer “visits”?
The biggest problem with the study is that it does not take into account the fact that many of the people who are using the time to check whether or not their favorite team has won, may have used the time doing other non-work related activities.

Until proven otherwise, I will prefer to believe that workers are just as (un)productive as on any other day.