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Students: March Madness impacts productivity

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | MARCH 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City resident Louie Deblois said he watches March Madness basketball games constantly throughout the workday.

But he said it’s not a problem.

In fact, it’s challenges him to stay more focused, he said while watching Michigan and Duke face off Sunday night at Micky’s Irish Put & Grill.

“I think it’s inspiring. I work harder and just want to bounce the old work thing along,” the 57-year-old said. “It’s an inspiration because it’s a challenge.”

But Deblois, many other local fans, and experts said the hype surrounding March Madness can have adverse effects on productivity while at work or school.

University of Iowa junior Colleen Hannon, an employee at Micky’s, 11 S. Dubuque St., said she watches the games during work at the bar and at her office job. Though Hannon said she’s winning the employee bracket at Micky’s, she has noticed its effects on the job.



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“People in the office have headphones on and are watching it [a lot], and people here at [Micky’s] get distracted all the time,” she said. “It definitely prolongs whatever someone is doing.”

According to a recent press release from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a nationwide outplacement consultancy group, distractions due to March Madness are present but are not extreme.

The increased access to games on smart phones and laptops poses a threat to productivity during the annual three-week-long tournament, according to the release.

Online streaming service had 8.3 million users last year, who enjoyed 11.7 million hours of online video and audio, the release states. Use has increased by 36 percent this year.

James Pedderson, the director of public relations for Challenger, said companies should embrace March Madness hype rather than ban it.

“[Restricting it] will create other problems such as morale and productivity,” he said. “People won’t work as hard.”

Maureen Collins-Williams, the director of Entrepreneurship Outreach at the University of Northern Iowa, said the tournament affects the productivity of her student employees.

“We employ quite a few students, and most of them have widgets, and it affects their work,” she said. “We know this because we walk in the room, and they all are yelling ‘Yea.’ ”

Collins-Williams said almost half of the adults in the class have their phones tuned to games during the three weeks.

One extreme fan at the UI said he has watched almost every game.

Sophomore Adam Netwal said if he has no plans for the day, he could easily watch eight hours of basketball.

“I love watching basketball, and it’s the most exciting time of the year,” he said.

He said he didn’t miss class or work to watch the games only because he was on spring break during the early rounds. Had he been in school, he said, he probably would have skipped class.

“I probably pay attention a little bit less, but not to the point where my grades suffer as a whole,” Netwal said.


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