Tips for skipping work to watch tournament

Hold onto your job, still watch college basketball

POSTED: 9:46 PM Mar 13 2012   UPDATED: 8:35 AM Mar 20 2013
basketball fan with facepaint, sports

Your alma mater is due to take the court in the NCAA men's basketball tournament in a few minutes and you're slated for a full day of work. What do you do?

Relax, there are a few options that should allow you to watch your team like a true fan without sending you to the unemployment line.

All it takes is a little foresight and creative planning to allow yourself to be fully engulfed in everything March Madness without setting back your career aspirations.

So, before falling back into your cubicle to pore over those TPS reports, financial spreadsheets and that office memo about the appropriateness of showing up to work shirtless with your school logo painted on your chest, take a quick mental health break and consider one of these five alternatives.

Doctor with scalpel, surgery

No. 5: Schedule a medical procedure

If you've been putting off some minor elective surgery what better time to schedule it than right before March Madness?

No, really, think about it. If you have an outpatient procedure that requires recuperating at home, you'll need something to help fill that downtime. Perhaps there's something worth watching on TV?

It may be too late to schedule something this year, but if you've been meaning to get that wisdom tooth removed, some plastic surgery taken care of or have been thinking about LASIK, consider penciling it in for next spring.

Some urologists have even latched onto this idea, offering so-called "Vas Madness" specials on vasectomies just before tournament time. For instance, the 21st Century Urology clinic in the Chicago area has become famous for offering a special including freebies of pizza and a bag of frozen peas to help with the swelling.

Just be sure not to jump around too much celebrating your team's big win.

basketball TV remote television, sports, couch potato

No. 4: Just take the day off

It may sound crazy, but it just may work. If you plan ahead and play your cards right, you might be able to legitimately request the day off by making arrangements with your boss.

If you don't have the PTO to burn or it's too late to request a day off, there is always the option of calling in sick. While we would never condone playing hooky, if your mind is set, be sure to be wise with your excuse.

You could always manufacture an reason (the risky vague personal emergency, the always popular doctor's appointment or just plain calling in sick), but perhaps the best excuse is simply, "I've earned it." Tally up the compensation time you've acquired recently by working late or early and make your case.

Your boss might even surprise you. Chances are he or she knows you'll likely be checking the scores every two minutes on the web or watching a streaming video feed at work anyway.

fans cheering in sports bar

No. 3: Be strategic with your break

If you can't get away from the office for the whole day, there are ways to get out for a little while -- including on your break.

If your team is playing over the lunch hour, consider taking your break at a sports bar that will surely be showing the tournament on television.

Otherwise, if your team is scheduled for a later game, consider working it out to either skip your earlier break to leave work a little early, or wait to take your break until your team hits the court.

As a last option, try to get in early on game days and be sure to schedule any meetings in the morning so you can get some actual work done before the first games tip off.

Just remember, if you take our next suggestion, keep your in-office viewing on the down low.

man cheering while watching laptop computer

No. 2: Watch the games at work

If you can't get away from the office and you spend your work day staring at a computer screen, you may be able to watch the games from your desk.

Although in the past you could watch every single game for free online, that will change in 2012.

While all games airing on CBS will still be available for free on CBSSports.com, the NCAA joined with Turner Sports and CBS Sports to offer March Madness Live, which for $3.99 allows fans to watch all games live online or via an app for Apple and android devices.

March Madness Live also offers video highlights, game alerts and live radio broadcasts for every game. Cable and satellite subscribers can "authenticate" themselves to get online access without paying extra.

Returning this year will be the ever-popular "boss button," which replaces the game with a fake spreadsheet if your boss happens to walk by your desk.

The free online and mobile offering in 2011 netted more than 52 million visits during the tournament. And that boss button certainly got a workout, racking up more than 4 million clicks.

But while those numbers show you'll hardly be alone, be sure to refrain from belting out your school fight song at your desk. That's what the conference room is for.

office workers with basketball

No. 1: Get your company involved

You want to boost office morale and unite your co-workers in a common goal?

Sure, you could put your nose to the grindstone and actually get some work done, but few things bring a workplace together like a good, old-fashioned office pool.

Whether it be a co-worker's due date, Oscar predictions, a football numbers board or a tourney bracket pool, nothing has quite the same effect on an office as the chance to win bragging rights over your co-workers -- not to mention their money.

And if you organize the office pool, it will give you a good jumping off point for a campaign to allow you and your fellow employees to watch the tourney at work in the open.

While some experts claimed March Madness costs companies into the billions of dollars in lost productivity, others argue that it actually has the ability to boost morale and, in turn, productivity.