I love football season. But not as much as some. I don’t go to games, so obviously no tailgating. No big parties. Just a nice big screen will do with the ability to DVR the games I most want to watch.
To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I paid to see a sporting event. One, I can’t afford it! And two…being in media has offered me the blessing of free tickets courtesy of sports franchises, friends, or the radio station. And when sitting in the press box for games, they even feed you!
But get this: I even began passing up the great press box opportunity several years ago. That’s because there’s another cost to sporting events. Time. And more specifically for overly passionate sports-minded dads, time away from family.
I was sitting in the press box at a Pittsburgh Steelers game while my boys were in high school. They weren’t sports fans and there was only one press pass. So on several Sundays, I went. And left the family at home. Sometimes missing church in the process.
On that Sunday in Pittsburgh, my soul was jolted with the reality that I only had a few years left with my sons at home. And weekends were precious. And that ended my giving up Sundays and leaving family behind. Back then, I was videotaping games and watching them when we completed our family time.
My workplace blog today chooses to address another unfortunate cost from our love of sports: ripping off the company in our fantasy time. Okay, that is a bit aggressive — but look at the numbers.
This past week, Fox Business reported the estimates in company time taken up by those who play “fantasy football.” If correct, the nearly 60 million Americans and Canadians in this pretend world of sports could cost employers nearly $16 billion in lost wages. This number was generated from one of our Chicago consulting firms, Challenger, Gray, & Christmas. (Love that name.)
For those who don’t fantasize about football in this way, it’s defined as “a statistical game in which players compete against each other by managing groups of real players or position units selected from American football teams.” And according to the Fox article, “Fantasy players are expected to use one hour per week updating their rosters, making trades and checking injury reports at work.”
Now to be fair, plenty of sporting pools still exist. And there’s the annual March Madness bracketology competition consuming massive hours of employee time as well. Then we have the time in the break room — or wherever — where daily discussions focus on the great plays, the bad decisions of umpires, referees, and coaches, and where teams stand.
The twist that caught my attention in the story came from the CEO John Challenger of the aforementioned firm. Apparently, John is himself a fantasy football fan who belongs to multiple leagues! And his take is that this activity is a morale booster in the workplace and may increase productivity in the long run! Thus, employers should look the other way, adding, “It is impossible to reach full productivity.” Mull that over, dear business owner.
This is one of those business dilemmas that does not have a clear cut solution. Strict workplace legalists can argue (with some validity) that you are paid for work, not personal fun or chatter. Workplace realists know that if you remove all fun or non-work related personal discussions, on-the-job satisfaction drops.
Interesting, the Bible has a story about this kind of conflict. Two women who loved Jesus had him over a for a visit. One chose to sit at His feet and be blessed by His wisdom and his company. Her name was Mary. The other chose to be very busy with all the preparations. Her name was Martha. And she complained to Jesus about her sister’s insensitivity on the work that needed to be done.
Here is what she said: “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
And here is how Jesus replied, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 / NLT) Best to think this one over.
Each employer must set their own guidelines for these kinds of workplace issues. And each employee owes it to their employer to respect those guidelines.
All work and no play, and Fantasy Football goes away. Here come the “boo birds.”
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Catch “Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand" weekday afternoons from 4-6pm on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life. To listen to the live broadcast or a podcast of previous shows click here.
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