Like many people who work in offices during the month of March, I've always had an irresistable attraction to empty NCAA basketball brackets. I find it almost impossible to walk past one and not fill it in — all the way to the end..
I know I'm not alone. An unscientific poll by the Wall Street Journal today showed that 40% (as of noon EDT, Friday) of workers get involved in NCAA pools at this time of year. When I worked in a very large engineering office during the late 1970s, the percentages were smaller but the overall numbers were still quite large. Our office had 4,800 engineers, and about 600 of us entered the annual $10-a-pop NCAA pool. Inevitably, there were arguments among the engineers about how the pool should be scored (one point per win? Or a graduated point scale to take important wins into account?), but most discussions surrounding the pool had more to do with college loyalties. Back in those pre-Internet days, engineers called a sports information line to see how their alma maters did, then debated about upcoming games for days afterward.
To be sure, many engineers didn't like the pools. Some saw it as a waste of time; some saw it as illegal gambling. I was reminded of this early today when I noticed a comment on the Wall Street Journal web site, in which one reader referred to the pools as "organized crime." (see http://forums.wsj.com/viewtopic.php?t=360).
That's a bit heavy-handed (I don't recall anyone getting "whacked" in an NCAA pool) , but I do understand companies that take steps to prevent it, mainly because of the amount of time that gets lost as a result of annual NCAA pools (see how March Madness fans overloaded a web site on Thursday at http://www.multichannel.com/blog/1790000179/post/1960007596.html.)
Still, I filled out my pool again this year. And — now for the important part — the winner is North Carolina.
Do you pool? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.