Every year, right around this time -- the time when the NCAA tournament is set to begin, bringing joy into each and every one of our lives -- there is always at least one story you can count on. Every year, it cites a study that says that the NCAA tournament costs employers some untold billions of dollars in productivity. Every year, we basically accept it as true.
This year's claims employers and businesses will lose almost $4 billion in man hours and productivity during the NCAA tournament. Here's the math behind the figure:
Start with a pay scale of $18 per hour. There are 58 million basketball fans watching the NCAA tournament. Those fans are driving hard to the Internet and TV to the tune of 1.5 minutes per day over 16 business days. That comes to $3.8 billion lost productivity.
Sketchy at best. How many people are only spending 1.5 minutes per day during the NCAA tournament looking at sports scores? How many of them are spending more? How many don't care about the tournament at all, and won't change their routines?
And here's the real kicker: Stories like this assume the American worker never takes any time off during the work day. Never browses the internet for hours and hours. Never skips out half an hour early. Never sneaks a third cigarette break into the afternoon to blow off some steam. Really, how hard do these people think we work? What sort of drill sergeants do they think our bosses are?
We Americans waste work hours all the time. It's a 365-days-a-year-thing, and it's what makes our country so great. But don't blame it on the NCAA tournament.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger that never, ever wastes his bosses' money. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.