NCAA Pools and Your Office

Last Updated Mar 14, 2008 11:31 AM EDT

Today's poll looks at March Madness, that time of the year when the nation turns its eyes to college basketball for three long weekends on the way to the NCAA title. And with that comes the inevitable office pool.

In comparison to other sports-related office-productivity threats, the standard NCAA office pool has nothing on "Fantasy" leagues, which require an irrational amount of near constant attention for months on end to remain competitive. In an NCAA basketball pool, you pick your teams once and hope for the best.

While there has been much ink spilled over the pitfalls of such things, I've often thought of the NCAA pools as relatively benign and, putting the illegality of gambling aside, potentially positive. It doesn't require much sports knowledge to play, so there's the potential for everyone to participate and, with that, the potential for the office to grow closer over this shared experience.

But we received a press release the other day which cautions that this seemingly innocent pool is often a gateway drug to a more serious addiction. DuPont & Associates, a professional services company, compiled together some stats to make an argument against the office pool because it can addict non-gamblers to the thrill of winning. According to the press release, calls to gambling helplines spike in March and April (March Madness now stretches to April, just like baseball's "October Classic" now finishes in November).

Your Dilemma: You're the boss of a small office. For years, you've turned the other cheek on the potential for productivity loss -- and the legal ethics of office gambling -- and allowed your employees to hold an NCAA March Madness pool because you believe it's a good morale booster. But now you've received this info on its gateway potential to gambling addiction.[poll id=24]Want to weigh in on this discussion. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Have a workplace-ethics dilemma you'd like to see in this poll? Email wherestheline (at)

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.