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World Cup is no March Madness in sapping productivity

June 8, 2010

cup1It may be the World Cup, but when it comes to sapping productivity in the United States the global soccer tournament still has a thing or two to learn from March Madness and the National Football League.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which often measures lost workplace productivity, said many U.S. fans will tune in for the quadrennial soccer tournament, which kicks off Friday in South Africa, but the event still trails the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, dubbed March Madness, and other events.

“Soccer simply has not caught on with the majority of American sports fans, Challenger CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

“However, the World Cup is a unique event and could attract a lot of viewers who might not typically go out of the way to watch a match,” he added. “Even as the sport grows in popularity, though, it will have far less of an impact on workplace productivity than the March Madness basketball tournament, for example.”

In Challenger’s nonscientific, nonbinding ranking of sporting events with the most potential to affect workplace productivity, the World Cup ranked No. 4:

No. 1 — 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 working hours makes this “the granddaddy of productivity sappers,” the Challenger firm said. Proof of that was the use of the ”Boss Button,” which instantly hides the webcast behind a fake spreadsheet, 3.3 million times this year.

No. 2 — NFL fantasy football: Millions of fantasy football participants  manage their teams from their office. Talk about drafts and trades adds up over the 17-week season, the firms said.

No. 3 — Super Bowl: While the NFL championship game is not played during work hours, the impact the next day is huge, Challenger said. The firm said some fans even want to make that post-game Monday a national work holiday (bless their hearts!).

No. 4 — World Cup: While soccer has not taken off in the U.S., this soccer tournament still makes the list for the impact it has on workplace productivity worldwide, the firm said. Some companies in Europe and South America may even shut down on the day of a big match.

Rounding out the list are college football bowl season, Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series, National Hockey League playoffs and Stanley Cup finals, National Basketball Association playoffs and finals and the Olympics. At No. 10, Challenger put a nonsports event, an Apple product announcement, which features such hype and water cooler speculation as to be worthy of sports hype.

(Reuters photo)

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