It’s every employee’s favorite season of low productivity and increased sick days; however, this month in college basketball displays more than just athletic prowess and dedicated fans. From high-tech whistles to exorbitant amounts donated in charity brackets and over 60 million people submitting brackets, the NCAA tournament offers us an unusual look at consumer trends.
High-tech whistles: This year, a ref’s blast on his whistle will instantaneously stop the game clock over the thundering noise of the crowd. The new system’s speed could add up to 30 seconds of actual playing time in a typical game, making a big difference in close matches.
Risky business: Who doesn’t love a pay-to-play office pool? While most offices keep their brackets accessible to all employees, entry fees for some corporate pools can be as high as $10,000! While chances for winning an office bracket remain low, it’s astonishing just how many people look for increased excitement by adding a competitive element to their workweek. It’s estimated that during the NCAA tournament, the US will lose up to $1.8 billion in productivity!
But … it’s for charity: Here’s an altruistic excuse for a budding gambling problem. From Justin Bieber to Michael Bloomberg, celebrities and commoners alike create March Madness pools that pledge to donate some or all of the winnings to charities. For example, ESPN’s ProBueno Charity Pickem allows contestants to enter $5 brackets and winners get to donate 50% of all entry fees to a charity of their choice. Among high-stakes brackets, entry to Bloomberg’s charity pool costs $10,000 and has 36 participants, which means a nice $360,000 check to the winner’s foundation of choice. Participants include famous hedge-fund founder Bill Ackman, AOL Chairman Tim Armstrong, and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. As we see an upswing in the U.S. economy and a reduction in the recession mindset amongst consumers, people have increased their amount of charitable donations.
No longer a boys’ club: In NFL Fantasy drafts and March Madness brackets alike, more and more women are participating. It is estimated that almost 20% of the people involved in an NFL Fantasy draft were women. 45% of interest on Facebook in March Madness belongs to women as well. One study showed that men made more correct predictions than women during March Madness, but women were better at predicting upsets!