4 Great Ways to Enjoy March Madness at Work

march madness

One of my favorite times of year, in relation to sports, is March Madness. I guess since I work from home now I can, theoretically speaking, watch games during March Madness but then I wouldn’t get any work done. ;-) That said, I do miss working in an office setting where I could partake in the camaraderie of March Madness tournaments at work. While I do love football at pretty much any level, following March Madness come in a close second to my fondness for all things football.

To give you a little background, I grew up in ACC country where college basketball was everywhere and most teams were either good or average at worst. The NCAA Tournament games begin on a Tuesday (this Tuesday to be exact) and start out with games going late into the night and end up with One Shining Moment on a Monday evening early in April. Add to that the growth of some Cinderella teams the last few years and it can be easy to get caught up in the hoopla (pun intended).

However, watching March Madness at work can be a major headache for employers as people call in sick or watch the games on their computer which impacts productivity. I think it’s the smart employers though that see this and try to use it to help improve employee morale while at the same time allowing employees to enjoy something they might like.  With that in mind, I’ve come up with some ways to watch March Madness at work and still get your work done.

March Madness is About Following the Games

Many companies hate March Madness time as it never fails that employees are trying to watch the games on their computers while working or constantly checking their phones for the scores. I understand the frustration on many employers’ parts.

In light of this, why not meet the employees in the middle and have the games on in lunchrooms, or if there are TVs in the common work area have the games on there? While it may mean you do not get to watch the game as a whole it, it does allow you to follow it casually while at the same time not slowing down the computer network. If you work somewhere that does not do that, simply ask if it’s an option. Don’t be the bad guy though and call in “sick” because you don’t want to miss the game, many employers are just too smart for that.

Fill Out Some Brackets

Half of the fun of March Madness is filling out a bracket. Whether you research it and have certain teams you think will make it to the Final Four, or simply guess it can be fun for many. This can be done in simple paper fashion, or you can use of a number of websites that offer doing this for free like Yahoo.

Yahoo allows you set up teams of people that you can compete with or just enter a competition on your own against others with no money on the line. I have also seen this taken one step further by having teams of people go against each other with the winning team getting something like a free lunch at the end of March Madness or by giving them a free hour of vacation for each individual on the team.

I will give a disclaimer though that I am not necessarily endorsing gambling on March Madness, nor betting on sports. The numbers, from 2011, show that $12 billion was wagered on the NCAA tournament and only $100 million of that was done through legal means. That is just a crazy stupid number.

Have a Potluck

What sporting event does not go with a potluck? This still holds true with watching March Madness at work. Just because it’s a potluck does not mean that is has to be junk food, as you’re likely sitting at a desk. I have seen veggie trays as well as fruit trays hold their own as desirable finger foods at times like this because they can be consumed quickly. I’ve also seen creative snack ideas revolving around teams in the NCAA tournament that always go over well. The point is to have fun with it and be a little creative so you can still partake in the fun and maybe even watch a little of March Madness at work.

Pick A Team

This final one is a bit like the filling out the brackets section. It gives you a little skin in the game without gambling on March Madness. How this works is that you have each interested employee choose a team, from a hat, that they’ll support and they all put in a certain dollar amount. It can be up to you, but I have seen anywhere from $1-$5 per person. The person who picked the winner will get to win the pot at the end of the NCAA tournament. This allows for some fun, while also some competition to see who might end up with the loot. Just make sure that your employer is fine with such an arrangement before pursuing this option, if they are it can be a nice little addition to the bank account by winning your March Madness pool at work.


Will you be following the NCAA tournament this year, and if so who will you be pulling for? What does your employer do to allow you to watch March Madness at work?


Photo courtesy of: Rbourque2


*Updated from original on March 14, 2013

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. You can connect via Twitter / Facebook.

56 comments on “4 Great Ways to Enjoy March Madness at Work

  1. At my office we have a tournament. It’s actually the whole first floor of companies. Everyone throws in $5 and the 3 companies each throw in $100 on top. Then we gets points for picking winners. The 3 highest scores win. It’s a lot of fun.

    As for who I am picking….I have no idea. The fact that so many mid-majors can beat top teams now makes its great to watch and root for the underdog, but it makes picking winners that much harder.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..Announcing My eBook GiveawayMy Profile

    • That does sound like a lot of fun Jon! I bet that can be pretty competitive. I agree, the mid-majors really have taken a big step the last few years which makes it more fun to watch.

  2. Great ideas here, John. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but we used to do stuff like this at work all the time, and even if you’re not a fan of the given sport, the camraderie part of it alone made things like this super fun – and who doesn’t love a potluck? Employers would be smart to encourage this type of bonding between their employees. It simply creates a more productive workplace. People generally do a better job at work when their employer has created a work environment that is supportive and fun.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Ways to Handle Unexpected Family ExpensesMy Profile

    • Thanks Laurie! I could not agree more on the encouragement and productivity. It’s the smart firms that take advantage of it and make it fun for all around.

  3. I absolutely participate in March Madness and my family has a very competitive league going on for about a decade now. Lots of trash talking ;) We also are having our housewarming the same weekend as the games (not on purpose but it’s awesome that it worked out that way) so we will be setting up tvs/monitors in three different rooms. I will of course be rooting for the Gophers!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Spring means Spring CleaningMy Profile

    • That’s awesome Grayson. My past employer did something like that.

      I grew up in Richmond VA. It was always fun watching the games while there because people would get so into it. I grew up when Jordan was at UNC, so it was easy to root for them.

  4. When I was advising, I’d close the office on the opening Friday early and set up shop at a local sports bar. I’d supply appetizers and drinks (to a point….but nobody really ever abused it) to my clients and their friends. By the time I left the business, I had a huge group of clients who’d take the afternoon off just to come watch games with me. It was a great marketing event for me AND I got to watch the games at the same time. I really miss that….

    …and of course, the team to beat will be Michigan State. Go Sparty!
    AverageJoe recently posted..Rethink Your To-Do List: Throw Out Your Problem TasksMy Profile

    • That’s an ingenious idea Joe! I bet it was a great marketing event for you and shows your creative thinking. I would miss it too.

      Sorry, I’ll have to be pulling for the Cats!! Go State!

    • Yea, it is at a lot of places. My past employer hated it because so many people would try and watch it on their computers and would severely slow down the network.

  5. Hi John,
    I too am a huge football fan but at the NFL level. I never have been a fan of basketball but there is something about march madness that gets me to watch the games. Besides the #1 seed over the #16, most games are very close and come down to the wire. Not to mention the upsets. Maybe it has something to do with the college players doing something the NBA players do not do, play defense.
    Alan recently posted..Where We Are TodayMy Profile

  6. Two things that I’ve never been able to get into: watching basketball and collegiate level sports.

    I do remember that my gym teacher for my Freshman and Junior years of high school was a big March Madness guy and had us all pick teams from the brackets out of a hat. Then he picked one for the entire class. -Both mens and women’s. If the team you picked won the championship, you got 5 points added to your grade for the marking period. Junior year, I jumped a full letter grade.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..How Much Would You Pay to Save Time & Effort?My Profile

    • I can understand that, though I think watching collegiate level sports is the more interesting of the two.

      I had similar things like that when I was in Jr high/High School. It was always nice to get a good bump for doing nothing really.

      • I can understand how people find collegiate sports more interesting, just as I enjoy watching a minor league game more than a major league game. Less polish, more mistakes. But I only ever went to one baseball game each year and didn’t really care about the names on the jerseys, so it worked. But for football, I do like following the players and there is just too much turnover. Those athletes keep graduating for some reason! :D
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..The Case Against MinimalismMy Profile

    • I would imagine that you could get some of the games earlier as they’re on at all times those first few rounds. Yep, your memories are correct. :)

    • Yea, I think I have one once maybe…but it is still fun. You should ask, you never know. My old employer was pretty conservative yet they were still willing to.

  7. The first weekend of March Madness is the best four days on the yearly sports calendar. You just can’t top it. Usually my brackets are completely blown apart by that first Sunday. This year proves to be exciting as there are many really good teams (especially in the Big Ten) but no one has proved to be invincible. Looking forward to it again…and dare I say it…O-H-I-O…Go Bucks! :)
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..Ways We Lie About MoneyMy Profile

    • I agree, I think this year is going to be interesting. With how no one has been safe at the #1 spot, I think we may be in for a wild ride this year.

    • Lol! I do the same thing with my team on one of my brackets. You never know this year, it’s been a very crazy year in college basketball.

  8. I must live under a rock, but I had no idea March Madness caused such an issue for employers. This sounds sexist, but maybe it’s because I work for a non-profit and there are very few men. I know there are women who are huge basketball fans (my sister), but the folks I work with must not be.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..My Spending Life StagesMy Profile

    • I don’t think it’s sexist at all KK, I think a lot of it is relative. I think the bigger issue is for big employers where they have a lot of people on computers and watching the games which slow down the network plus a lot of people tend to call in sick. My old employer would black out the first two weeks and would not allow anyone to take the time off.

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