March Madness


You've got to admire John Challenger of consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in much the same way you've got to admire the LSU players who kept driving the lane on Saturday night despite repeated and emphatic rejections by North Carolina's Ed Davis.

Challenger wants to make some noise during the NCAA tourney, and he's not going to let a couple of blocked shots stop him.

Never mind the dismissal of his oft-aired thesis that March Madness poses a multi-billion-dollar threat to worker productivity. Sure your employees (and maybe you) are following the tourney, running pools, even watching games during the opening days -- but as Jack Shafer argues, they're probably just displacing other on-the-job downtime, and the dollar figures are almost certainly inflated.

But Challenger is undeterred. This year, he tried a new shot, claiming that productivity losses will decrease, because workers are so concerned about their jobs in the bum economy -- and listing ways companies can use the tournament to boost morale.

Another PR pitch pretends to focus on the tourney's impact on network usage, but admits, "There's no telling how great an impact this 'madness' will have on networks (and IT staff)."

So what have we learned? Junk stats never die. Clever PR ploys based on junk stats continue to get names in print, including in blog posts aimed at debunking them. And Ed Davis might just be the defensive stopper Carolina has needed all season.


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