Thursday, August 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

March Madness begins Monday at an office near you

17 march madness 001

Louisville fan Jason Youngblood of Vacaville has played the NCAA brackets for more than 25 years. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | March 16, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — When Jason Youngblood fills out his March Madness basketball tournament bracket, he’ll pick Louisville to win it all.

He almost always does.

“Anytime they’re in the top 20, I pick them,” said Youngblood, a 43-year-old Vacaville resident. “There have been years when I’ve tried to strategize and not gone with my heart. But if they’re near the top 20, I follow my heart.”

The Cardinals are a highly ranked team this year, so that makes it easy for Youngblood. Now he just needs to figure out all the other first-round games – and the rest of the tournament.

Youngblood isn’t alone: For millions of fans – casual and otherwise – real March Madness starts Monday.

The NCAA Division I basketball tournament begins Tuesday with four “play-in” games. But Monday is more important: It’s the start of the bracket season, where people pitch in a few dollars and pick winners for all 67 games over the next three weeks.

If you win? Bragging rights in the office or with your friends. If you lose? Join the crowd. Nearly everyone loses.

“I think I might have won in the 1990s, but I haven’t won anything that I remember,” Youngblood said.

Here’s a disclaimer: Office pools are technically illegal – in the same way as fishing without a license or walking a dog off a leash – you can get a ticket.

Maybe.

“It’s covered by the California Penal Code – office pools that are not valued at $2,500 or more are (still) illegal,” said John Daugherty, the chief deputy district attorney for Solano County. “It’s an infraction and you could be cited. The maximum penalty is $250.”

Daugherty said that pools with a total of more than $2,500 could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony.

But does law enforcement go after the $100 office bracket?

“I’ve been here almost 28 years and I don’t remember ever seeing one (prosecuted),” Daugherty said. “I’ve seen other gambling cases, but nothing with respect to office pools.”

That’s good news to Youngblood and others like him. He has filled out brackets for more than two decades – starting when he was a student at Fairfield High School.

“But I remember far more with my co-workers than my classmates at school,” he said.

He’s been self-employed for the past 15 or so years, so the office pool went by the wayside while the bracket remained.

“I had some church buddies who got me in an online pool for no money, just pride,” he said. “And last year, I got involved with a friend who had one with his friends. It was the first time I had a little money on the line in a few years and I definitely did more research and read more about them.”

As more and more bracket contests go online, the traditional office pool – with people turning in pages with handwritten winners on them – have decreased. But even the preponderance of online brackets doesn’t answer the question of whether they’re good or bad for the office.

Challenger Gray & Christmas, an executive outplacement firm, releases its annual report this week that estimates the cost to American businesses of employees watching March Madness games at work – much of which is attributed to participation in office pools. This year’s report estimates that companies stand to lose $1.2 billion for each unproductive work hour during the first week of the tournament.

A survey by Microsoft last year – cited by Challenger Gray & Christmas – showed that 86 percent of respondents said they would spend at least part of their workday updating brackets, checking scores and following games during the tournament.

Bad for the office? Not according to Challenger Gray & Christmas, which said companies should embrace pools, not crack down on them.

“At the end of the day, it is unlikely that a few days of March Madness distraction will impact the company’s bottom line,” a press release from the firm said. “Taking a hard line on office pools and online streaming, on the other hand, could have a dramatic impact on the bottom line if it leads to increased turnover or causes employees to become disengaged.”

The group suggests offering a companywide office pool and other incentives during the first two days of the tournament – Thursday and Friday.

In an article in the Kansas City Star newspaper, the director of survey programs for the Society for Human Resource Management said, “the trend is definitely looking at these (office pools) in a positive way. They do bring employees together and impact relationships with each other. They serve as a sort of bonding, like talking about the TV shows they’re watching.”

For Youngblood, the coming three weeks will be about following his bracket and following his beloved Louisville Cardinals.

“There’s something about college basketball that feels like my roots,” he said. “I see so few games and don’t have cable (TV), so I don’t follow them like I should. But I definitely pay attention.”

Like much of America, he will really pay attention during the next few weeks. Because if the right teams win, he wins, too.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or bstanhope@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.

March Madness bracket numbers

  • 68: Teams in the tournament.
  • 67: Games in the tournament.
  • 9.2 quintillion: Possible bracket outcomes for 68-team bracket. That’s 9.2 followed by 17 zeroes.
  • $1 billion: Amount offered for a perfect bracket in the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, partially funded by Warren Buffett.
  • 4.2 billion-to-1: Odds against a perfect bracket, according to the New York Daily News.
  • $2.5 billion: Amount bet on March Madness, according to the FBI.
  • 50 million: People who fill out March Madness brackets, according to Microsoft.
  • 8.15 million: Number of brackets entered in ESPN’s Tourney Challenge last year.
Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is the Daily Republic's news editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 17 years as a sports editor and three years as the associate editor before spending three years away from the newspaper (though continuing as a columnist). He returned in December 2010 as news editor. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • DaveMarch 16, 2014 - 10:16 am

    This guy looks like he has not touched a basketball in years. He probably lives out of plastic tote containers. D.Shrout.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MarnieMarch 16, 2014 - 11:42 am

    I know him and while he does often live out of plastic totes, he does shoot hoops on a regular basis and he refs for the youth in the community. Don't be a hater :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony B.March 16, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    This guy looks legit. I'd consider letting him live in my house. He looks like he can cook too. Big bonus right there.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanMarch 16, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    What's wrong with living out of plastic tote containers?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Locke an unparalleled universe in the Delta

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Small-town heroism on display in Napa

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
 
Review set for Vacaville fitness center suit

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield motorcyclist hurt in Beck Avenue crash

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Logue misses meet with Libertarians in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Chamber event looks at health care law

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Winterhawk Winery up for auction

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

.

US / World

Boy hurt in California quake: ‘I should be dead’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lawmakers approve groundwater management bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California sets ride-sharing insurance standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds allow logging after huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California beach town sees flooding from hurricane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California Senate passes gun restraining order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US to consider spousal abuse in immigration claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
UK sex abuse report prompts outrage, reflection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Q&A: Few laws govern children at shooting range

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Mom pleads for release of captive US journalist

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Israeli premier, Hamas declare victory in Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Q-and-A on Westerners who join the fight in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sources: US considering new relief mission in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Shooting by 9-year-old girl stirs debate over guns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
.

Opinion

Let’s improve entertainment control units

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Seizing the day with old friends

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Signs of possible healing in Ferguson

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Poor constituent service no longer acceptable

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 28, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My boss insists that we all eat lunch with her in cafeteria

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Chris Soules is ABC’s new ‘Bachelor’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

John Lennon’s killer sorry for being ‘an idiot’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Reality star accused of rape, child molestation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Source: BET suspends producer after Blue Ivy joke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Judge lets ‘X-Men’ director’s accuser drop lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Rapper Young Jeezy pleads not guilty to gun charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Cops’ crew member killed in Omaha police shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Maria Sharapova comes through in 3 sets at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr to start vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fuld’s homer in 9th lifts A’s over Astros 5-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Posey hits game-ending 2-run homer for Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Keenum, Savage to settle Texans’ backup QB duel vs. 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

USC’s Shaw admits to lying about injuries, rescue

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
IndyCar sets April 12 New Orleans date

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

No. 23 UNC suspends 4 players for opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Clippers sign Doc Rivers to 5-year extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cal needs more from its running game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Kevin Hogan a ‘stabilizing agent’ at QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Chicago’s Little League champs return as heroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NFL suspends Browns star WR Gordon for 2014 season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders hope rebuild pays immediate dividends

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
After trio of near misses, 49ers chase Super Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

US economy forecast to grow by 1.5 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Reports: FBI probes JPMorgan hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Time Warner Cable says outages largely resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Video games come of age as spectator sport

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Malaysia Airlines set for shakeup after disasters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
IMF chief Lagarde under investigation in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

SEC adopts rules on loan-backed securities

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Stocks drift higher; S&P 500 holds on to 2,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Gary Allen Person

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Fernanda Dee Villarosa

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Herman P. Sorensen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lyle R.C. Cullum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Frank W. Moy Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9