The Thrill of March Madness

Here’s how to best harness the thrill of March Madness in your workplace.

The Thrill of March Madness

The arrival of March means the arrival of spring. But for many people, it also means March Madness. You’ve probably gotten engaged with at least a couple of March Madnesses of the past, even if you aren’t a big sports fan.

Office pools are one of the biggest ways to get involved. In 2018, an estimated $10 billion was wagered on the 68-team tournament, according to USA Today. The newspaper also reported that 20 percent of people admitted to watching games in their office bathroom. While that’s taking things a bit far, a smart office will work to incorporate March Madness into their office life rather than try to ignore it.

How to Throw an Office Party

The perfect March Madness party contains a few key components. For starters, it allows employees to let loose and enjoy the games without completing ditching all productivity for the length of the tournament. The 2019 tournament includes 67 games over 19 days, and no office can afford to lose that much time watching basketball.

But you can do some things. The First Four games are March 19 and 20, but most people don’t get too excited about those. The real action begins on March 21 when the “official” first round begins. It may be tempting to have a party that day, as that is when a lot of upsets occur. That’s the round when 16-seed UMBC stunned pickers and made history by defeating the number one seed, Virginia. That year, an average of 8.2 million people watched coverage of the games through the first round.

Believe it or not, the first weekend might not be the best time to throw an office party. The regional rounds will be held March 28-31. By that point, the number of teams is down to 16. The competition is even more intense, and there are still plenty of surprises. Lots of top seeds are sure to fall in the regional round. Of course, a lot depends on your office schedule. If the first round and second rounds are the only time everyone will be on the clock, then go for it.

But waiting until the regionals also allows the office party committee to order favors that will really get people in the spirit of the season. You can hand out things like necklaces and bracelets as party favors. If the competition is really stressful, you may even look into ordering flashing fidget spinners for your coworkers.

Office Party Rules

The point of a March Madness office party is to let people burn off some excess energy while having fun and (this is important) bonding with their coworkers. In many ways, it’s better to gather around the office TV and watch the last few minutes of a thrilling Sweet Sixteen game. If you don’t, a lot of workers will be tempted to stream the games in their cubicle anyway. So give them permission to cut loose a little bit.

For instance, you might declare the last two hours of a Friday to be March Madness Day. Encourage people to get as much work done as possible before then, because from 3 to 5 PM, anyone who wants to can go to the break room to watch games and chow down on some snacks. If they have a favorite team, encourage them to wear team apparel that day.

And don’t forget to tell them to take some party favors with them on their way out the door. With a bit of planning, you can make people remember the party and forget how well they did (or, most likely, didn’t) do with their bracket.

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Carlos Fox
See all posts by Carlos Fox