Nothing in sports can beat the first two days of bracket season. And by the first two days, I mean the round of 64. All due respect to teams in play-in games, but they’re about as relevant as the Popeye's Bahamas Bowl is to college football.
The bracket pools, upsets and pride you feel when the thirteen-seed you picked upsets a powerhouse (thanks ‘05 Vermont Catamounts!) are just part of what makes this event special. The outcome can be so unpredictable that seven-year-olds can pick more winners based of mascots they like than ESPN analysts paid to study the game. Small schools you've never heard of go on improbable runs, creating great story lines and thrusting no-name players into the national spotlight, and possibly onto the radar of NBA scouts.
But what’s the real glory of this event? The sacrifices we make professionally to enjoy it, of course. Don’t be surprised if productivity is lacking at the workplace this week as silent fist pumps permeate the office and crumpled brackets fly in the trash.
The folks at CBS care about your career, though. They stream all the games online and were even kind enough to create a “boss button” you can download on your computer that will change your screen to a Q1 presentation, class notes, or Internet search page with a mouse click. (You better appreciate this, because now my editor knows what I’m up to this week.) But the best option has and always will be to simply skip work.
Those playing hooky on March Madness have been forced to become more clever over the years, as bosses started marking tournament dates on calendars. Not showing up to work on 4/20 basically implies your pothead, just as skipping out during the first round of the tournament colors you as a sports-loving degenerate with no self-control. Those degenerates, however, are the best kind.
I had one friend who told the office his house was going up for sale in January just so he could claim he had to give potential buyers tours in March. There was another who drove out to the Loop 101 Highway in Phoenix, pulled over and called his boss with traffic flying by to say his car's engine blew out. It's extra efforts like these that ensure you can enjoy the Madness like one should — in front of a big screen, beverage in hand, with your friends.
So how do you plan to skip out on work this year? Death in the family? Doctor appointment? Share your schemes — both future and former; successes and failures — with us by e-mailing them to the addresses below or sharing them in comments on this post. Your experiences might provide inspiration for a slacker in need, or just some entertainment for those ethical chumps who go into work on Thursday and Friday.
E-mail your March Madness hooky stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com