Walcoff: Tourney time bad for business? Madness

Who cares if you hibernated all winter and look like you’re hiding a baseball under your shirt, it’s the first day of spring and the start of March Madness, so go ahead and jump into the office pool.

But according to industry analysts, the ever-popular ritual of betting on the NCAA Tournament in the workplace costs U.S. companies more than a billion dollars in lost productivity. Workers watching the games on their computers and tracking the action online are engaged in “time theft.”

Time out.

I say companies actually benefit from the tournament. Instead of ignoring your co-worker at the water cooler, you can now swap stories of your favorite team’s fortunes or maybe learn that you and your office rival went to the same school, providing an instant morale boost that could only enhance worker camaraderie and output. Unless, of course, the secretary who only knows Siena as a nice city in Italy and Belmont as a great racetrack has the winning sheet.

By the way, we’ve never had all four No. 1 seeds make it to the Final Four, but this year’s fab four — North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Memphis — look as good as John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Unfortunately, we seem to be paying a steep price for athletic success in college sports. The Tar Heels are the only team among the top seeds that graduates at least 50 percent of its players. No 2 seeds Tennessee and Texas graduated only 33 percent of their players during a six-year period. If the NCAA truly cared about the student-athlete, it would limit the tournament field to schools with at least a 66 percent graduation rate.

I’m no fan of Bob Knight, but he graduated more than 90 percent of his players and still became college men’s basketball’s winningest coach. Great theater watching Mr. Irascible channeling Mother Theresa during his first week on the job as studio analyst praising just about the entire college coaching fraternity.

Knight, who once said he wanted to be buried upside down so his critics could kiss his derriere, is now a reluctant member of the hated media. Although he insists on calling himself a consultant to accentuate his outsider role, he’s the only one on the set without a sport coat and tie. Imagine Knight’s reaction if one of his players tried that tired, preppy sweater look on a road trip or postgame news conference.

» Postscript to last week’s Jerry Rice jersey flap: The 49ers are telling me they will retire “Flash 80’s” uniform “at the appropriate time.” But maybe what’s really holding up the honor is some residual bad blood between Jerry and the Niners. In a recent interview we had on KGO Radio, Jerry said he never would have rushed back from ACL surgery in 1997 had he known the high risk of reinjuring his knee, which he did in his first game back. Rice also said the team deliberately kept him from having a big day in his farewell game in San Francisco so fans would more readily accept his release.

I was the sideline reporter and postgame talk-show host for 49ers games during those years, and remember Jerry being eager to make a speedy return despite a doctor’s warnings. In his last game in the Red and Gold, in December 2000, the Chicago Bears double-teamed Rice virtually the entire day, enabling Terrell Owens to run wild and free and set an NFL recordwith 20 receptions. Steve Mariucci and Jeff Garcia said Rice’s conspiracy accusations were untrue, but the professor of revisionist history still sounds bitter.

Rich Walcoff is the sports director at KGO Radio (810 AM) and can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the “KGO Morning News.” He can also be reached at richwalcoff@abc-sf.com.

Other Sportssports

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power: Closures and updates

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read