Business of Sports (Impact) at Work


Global workplace productivity is expected to suffer over the next month as the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament takes center stage. The U.S. impact won’t be as substantial. Despite the continued growth in youth soccer (my son wanted to take a personal day from camp to watch the South Africa-Mexico opener on Friday morning), the world’s most popular game has not attracted the same fanatical support here at home.

But the folks at Challenger, Gray & Christmas have put together a non-scientific ranking of the sporting events that likely do have the biggest effect on employees … and ultimately employers. No surprise to me at No. 1. I’m of the belief that a certain Thursday and Friday in March are really national holidays.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (aka, March Madness) – Widespread office tournament pools and the fact that about half of the first 32 games are played during work hours (and streamed live on CBS Sports March Madness on Demand) make this the granddaddy of productivity sappers. Proof of the event’s impact on productivity: the “Boss Button,” which instantly hides the webcast behind a fake spreadsheet, was hit 3.3 million times during the 2010 Tournament.
 
NFL Fantasy Football – Millions of fantasy football participants manage their teams from their office, whether it’s preparing for the fantasy draft or initiating a four-way trade.   

The Super Bowl – While the game is not played during traditional work hours, the impact on the workplace comes the following day, when many Super Bowl revelers find this particular Monday especially difficult to manage.  

World Cup Soccer – Some companies in Europe and South America may even shut down on the day of a big match.
 
College Football Bowl Season – Bowl games start in mid-December and many die-hard college football fans attempt to watch every game. Some of these games are played during the day, while others go late into the evening.  

Baseball Playoffs and World Series – Games are mostly played in the evening, but often stretch into the wee hours. Groggy fans, particularly in cities with playoff/World Series teams, may be less productive the day after these prolonged games.
 
NHL Playoffs/Stanley Cup Finals – Professional hockey playoffs last almost two months. For cities with teams playing, this can create considerable distractions. 
 
NBA Playoffs/Finals – Much like with baseball and hockey, productivity is mostly killed in cities with competing teams. The biggest threat comes from late night game-watching on work nights. 
 
The Olympics – While most people get their fill through prime-time coverage, faster Internet connections are making it possible to watch live streaming of events from one’s desk. 
 
Apple Product Announcements – While this technically is not a sporting event, these announcements feature almost as much pre-event hype and watercooler speculation about what will transpire, particularly among members of the IT staff. Most events, which occur in the middle of the workday, are covered via live blogging, so those who cannot wait for news reports after the fact are able to be among the first to learn about Apple’s latest creation or product update.