In an always-on world, March Madness is no joke

march madness at work

As a writer in charge of my own workload, there are times when I find I’m not as productive as I’d like to be, so I’ve recently started masturbating exercising regularly in the morning to get the blood pumping and help me focus the rest of the day. But how is that new routine supposed to stand up to the mother of all distractions: March Madness?

According to the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ report on the subject, during the first two days of annual NCAA basketball tournament, at least 3 million U.S. employees spend one-to-three hours following games. Their estimate on the cost to employers? $134 million in “lost wages.”

So I guess if you’re a basketball fan, the answer to my question is simple: my new exercise routine has no chance. Fighting was futile, so I gave in.

After all, if there’s one thing the internet does really well it’s porn, diet pills, sports. More to the point, you can’t avoid it anymore. In the old days of a few years ago, the only opportunities to monitor the games were leave work and go to a sports bar or to watch it on an ESPN Gamecast. But now, we can watch every game on our televisions, phones, tablets, and computers. Can’t watch it all live? Well, you’re also able to follow the action on Twitter with almost instant video highlights. You can run from March Madness, but you can no longer hide.

And that’s how my opening day of the tournament wound up looking like this (all times are Pacific, because living out here means we don’t have to waste hours each day waiting for games to start like those suckers friends on the East Coast):

march madness is no joke pittsburgh vs wichita state ncaa 201311:14am: I’m sitting in a full conference room, watching the Pittsburgh/Wichita State game on my computer on mute, when my video feed suddenly goes bad. “Technical Foul!” it says. While we’ve been able to put all of this content online, I guess we still can’t make it reliable. I sigh in disgust and apparently my reaction inadvertently kills the idea my coworker is pitching. Oops.

12:30pm: Creating a “Score Alert” on my phone that buzzes every time a game starts or gets close or goes to half or reaches a final score was probably a bad idea. My phone buzzes constantly, effectively turning into a vibrator stuck on “On.” Speaking of which, Marquette is down early and I’m freaking out. The tournament’s been going for less than two hours.

1:10pm: Get another Score Alert about Marquette. Someone catches me screaming, “Leave me alone, phone!” at my iPhone, then asks me if I was feeling okay. I think they’re calling HR.

march madness is no joke marquette ncaa 20131:48pm: Provoked by my phone, I escape to the bathroom to catch the end of the Marquette game on my tablet. With all the time outs at the end I’m in there way too long. Also, bringing a tablet into the bathroom may give the wrong impression. I’m getting odd looks from the others in the office. At least Marquette won.

3:10pm: Oregon over Oklahoma St!! I jump up from my desk and scream “In your face!” to someone I don’t recognize. I think it was an intern. She might be crying.

5:30pm: I approach my car for the evening commute with trepidation; I’ve never seen the need for SiriusXM, but that was the other 11 months of the year. Fortunately, the local sports station on plain old terrestrial radio has the broadcast for my second upset pick of the day: California over UNLV, and Cal is leading in the second half! Then the station inexplicably cuts to an Arizona game that’s well out of reach. My road rage reaches Defcon 2  while I furiously try to order SiriusXM by thumb.

march madness is no joke new mexico vs harvard ncaa 20138:20pm: I take a break from the games and turn off my phone during dinner with the wife. When I turn it back on, the thing nearly explodes from all the Score Alerts. I turn on the TV to see three-seed New Mexico, who I picked to get to the finals, losing to Harvard. And suddenly my tournament is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Old testament, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

10:00pm: They lost. My bracket is toast. My wife is asleep in the other room as I sit alone in the dark, staring at the once promising bracket on my computer screen, and hoping tomorrow will be better. I hit refresh. Again and again. I look at my phone. Why won’t you talk to me? Please talk to me. Make it better. Hold me.

Oh, look! There’s an email from HR in my inbox!

Top image courtesy of Corepics VOF/Shutterstock

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