Man sitting at office desk doing work, excited from streaming sports on computer

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WASHINGTON — The NCAA Tournament may be a fun distraction for workers, but bosses may want to look away, because March Madness is likely costing them money! A new study reveals American businesses lose $13.8 billion each year because employees are less productive during March Madness.

According to the WalletHub study, the average worker spends six hours watching the tournament each year. If you’re counting on a millennial to finish that project on time this March, better give them an extension now! A staggering 56 percent of millennial workers admit they’re willing to miss a work deadline in order to watch their team play in March Madness.

Overall, however, watching some college hoops as a team will likely have a positive impact on many offices. Four in five employees (78%) say watching and celebrating March Madness at work boosts morale.

Just to make things interesting, 29 percent of March Madness fans add they always fill out a bracket and participate in the office pool. Nearly nine in 10 workers feel these pools help build better camaraderie between them and their co-workers. Although placing a wager on the NCAA tournament could make things a little less wholesome, it turns out that 81 percent of HR professionals say their businesses have no formal policy which restricts office pools.

College basketball is big business

While workers in other businesses may be slacking off during the tournament, there’s no stopping the money train that is the NCAA Tournament. WalletHub researchers find the NCAA brought in $1.16 billion in revenue in 2021. That’s more than double what the organization brought in during the pandemic in 2020 and even more than the last season before COVID.

This year’s tournament will also bring in big bucks for the 14 cities across the United States hosting March Madness games. For New Orleans, who hosts the 2022 Final Four, the study finds the tournament will bring in about $200 million for the city.

About 70,000 fans will visit New Orleans during the tournament. Many of those fans, as well as their friends around the country, will likely be placing wagers on those games. Estimates show that bettors will wager about $10 billion on the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Although sports betting is now legal in more areas than ever before, the study finds $4 billion will still come from illegal wagers.

Just how popular is betting on March Madness? Researchers say bettors wager 30 percent more money on the tournament than they do on the Super Bowl — one of the biggest betting days of the year. The average March Madness bet comes in at around $35.

It also might be easier to convince someone to fill out a tournament bracket than it is getting them to vote for president! In 2019, sports fans filled out 149 million brackets, just shy of the 156 million ballots cast in the 2020 election.

While your odds of picking the right candidate there are basically 50-50, don’t count on seeing a perfect bracket any time soon! With the odds of picking every single winner in the field of 68 teams being one in 9.2 quintillion, you have better odds of winning back-to-back lotteries while only having a single ticket for each drawing!

All of the glory, none of the profit

Although plenty of people will cash in on March Madness, there’s at least one group on the outside looking in — the players. While new laws allow college athletes to now make money on their name and image, the players in this year’s tournament still receive no money at all from the NCAA for their participation.

Even the scholarships many of the players receive pale in comparison to what their peers in the NBA make. A rookie in the NBA will collect a salary of roughly $3.3 million. That’s 46 times the amount of the average Division I basketball scholarship ($71,400).

Meanwhile, many of the coaches of those young men make more than the people running their schools! For example, Kentucky head coach John Calipari makes $8.1 million as the sport’s highest paid coach. That’s more than what the president of the University of Kentucky and the state’s governor earn combined!

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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