Every year around this time I get an endless stream of emails for PR people pitching stories about March Madness.
The pitches mainly come from law firms and employment companies, and they are always the same.
“March Madness gambling is illegal and those who engage in it are breaking the law.”
“Basketball fever is leading to a loss of workplace productivity.”
Don Forsyth, a professor at the University of Richmond, gets a warm fuzzy from you March Madness maniacs.
“It can draw people together, which is a positive thing,” he said about workers engaging in March Madness fever. “You’re able to use those moments for interpersonal relationships.”
Forsyth actually thinks it will encourage all that management gobbledegook Corporate America pretends it wants. First and foremost, the often touted but never really used — “team-building.”
Yes, he says March Madness rituals such as filing out those tiered gambling brackets can get the whole office singing Kumbaya.
“Wanting to bond psychologically with others is normal – so normal, it’s part of human nature. We’re conformists. We’re going along with what other people do. If everyone is a fan of basketball in March, then we’ll be fans of basketball in March,” said Forsyth, noting that people will choose the more-crowded of two side-by-side restaurants because more people have said it must be better.
But as anything in life, even March Madness isn’t all good, especially when the office pool losers start showing their feelings.
“The downside is that 64 teams lose,” he said. Fierce off-court competition can contribute to upticks in all sorts of aberrations – hangovers, missed work, domestic violence and even rioting and suicide. “It’s called ‘March Madness’ for a reason,” he said. “Fans are elated when their team wins, but after a loss, they feel anger, depression, sadness, hopelessness and confusion.”
If you’re feeling anger, depression, sadness, hopelessness and confusion because you actually hate basketball and want to drown out all the March Madness going on at your workplace, just play this YouTube video of Joan Baez singing Kumbaya very loud.