Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Duke Professor Research Indicates NCAA Fans Work Less During March Madness

The trees are blooming, layers of outerwear are being shed and Durham's Sarah P. Duke Gardens are teeming with those seeking the rays of a warm sun. These things all point to one obvious and extremely important thing, perhaps the biggest the month of March has to offer each year - Madness.

All these niceties of life take second seat to that which rules this area for a few weeks each spring.  Spring wouldn't be Spring without college basketball.  Brackets are filled out, friendly banter about which team is best occurs at nearly every human interaction, and the games are viewed almost to the exclusion of all other things.  They even get streamed online while people are at work.

So as the NCAA tournament is about to begin, fans’ attention is on brackets and seedings. By at least one measure, this focus will mean a decrease in academic productivity, says Duke University professor Charles Clotfelter Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy

“The week after selection Sunday, the amount of work goes down. But, in addition to that, the amount of work goes down if your team wins a big game,” Clotfelter said.  In this area, that must mean a big hit to productivity since two (three counting the much improved former powerhouse NC State) college hoops cathedrals are within a few short miles of one another and are embroiled in what some consider the greatest rivalry in all sports.  For the uninitiated, that's Duke and UNC Chapel Hill - the Tobacco Road rivalry.

In his 2011 book "Big-Time Sports in American Universities," Clotfelter analyzed the number of articles viewed during February, March and April at 78 research libraries in three different years. Using the retrieval of articles as a measure of work, he found declines corresponding to the tournament. The study explained in the video linked above.

The #2 ranked Duke Blue Devils Men's Basketball Team plays its first game of the tournament on Friday the 16th at 7:15 PM against #15 ranked Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

See Also:

A more in-depth video interview with Clotfelter

Bracket - everyone needs a bracket

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