SURVEY SAYS: What's Your 2010 Pool Perspective?

March 18, 2010 ( - March is more than half over, but March Madness doesn’t officially begin until today - when the Men’s NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament gets underway.

This week I asked readers about their pooling plans, who they picked to win (and who they would like to), and what – if any – workplace policy is in place regarding these activities. 

Well, it may be a response to the content of this year’s field – but only about half as many said they would be participating in a pool this year as last – we’re talking 67.9% saying they would NOT be pooling this year, compared with 47.7% a year ago (see SURVEY SAYS: Who’s Your Pick in the NCAA?).  Additionally, another 8.1% of this year’s respondents were participating in that pool with more than one sheet, and 5.4% were doing so in more than one pool.

Now, another factor in the rate of participation MIGHT be a workplace banning the practice – and, sure enough, 35.4% said they had such a policy in place (although a third of these admitted that nobody pays that policy any mind).  That left 37.3% who said there was no such policy in place, and another 27.3% who weren’t sure if they had such a policy or not.  A year ago, nearly half said there was no policy in place, but only 17.2% said these activities were not allowed.

The Top Picks

As for those who were participating in a pool, “Kansas” was the top pick, and by roughly three times as many as those who identified their top choice as “Kentucky.”  Syracuse was third (distantly), with Maryland, Ohio State, Duke, and Northern Iowa just behind.  Those looking for some real outside shots might consider Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Wofford, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Vanderbilt, and Georgetown, each of which received a single vote.

Perhaps not surprisingly, “Kansas” was also the top second place pick, but only just ahead of “Kentucky”, which was only just a tad ahead of Duke in the second place round.  Syracuse and West Virginia were behind that pack, but only pulled about half as many as the top three.

How Long?

I also asked readers how long they took to make those picks – and for all those managers out there, it doesn’t look like it has been a big drain.  The most popular response – 38% - said they took “about a minute”, though a quarter (23.9%) took 15 times as long (that is, to say, 15 minutes) and 14.1% said about 5 minutes. 

That left 11.3% who took between 15 minutes and a half hour, 10% who said they weren’t keeping track – and just under 3%....were embarrassed to say.

Heart Felt?

Now – there’s the picks we make with our “heads” (ostensibly the ones above) – and the ones that come from the heart.  And here is, perhaps, the reason for the apparent decline in interest from a year ago; 35% don’t care – and another 9.3% said they were pulling for “none of the above” because their team didn’t make the cut. 

That said, there were four teams that stood out from the pack; Maryland, Syracuse, Ohio, and - Kansas.  And if you’re pulling for Purdue or Gonzaga – well, you’ve got company as well.

There were some interesting observations about these pools – and some interesting ways to let people engage in them for good causes (and/or morale):

I work at a large insurance company that SPONSORS a pool!  It's a huge March Madness pool and you can win t-shirts and other corporate stuff.  You can plan right on our intranet site.

 We have a "no gambling" statement in the handbook, but no one pays any attention to it.

I follow women's college basketball, yeah UCONN!!

Yes, it's allowed within the guidelines set

It's a fun time and shouldn't be frowned upon as long as the job(s) are getting done.

Interestingly enough the pools I'm in are workplace pools. For both, the top prize is bragging rights only and for one there is a $5 entry fee that goes to charity. (I guess that makes it okay.)

All employees are urged to buy a sheet for $5.00.  All of the money goes to Relay for Life except for a small winners pool

Any kind of office pool is strictly forbidden.   Anyone caught using their office computer for these purposes, including sports fantasy leagues are subject to termination.  They have terminated people for breaking these rules.

Our workplace has an "official" in-house pool.

No pool organized at work.

Not at my current employer, but at other employers yes and boy do I miss it!!

Pool?  I thought this was about basketball, not water polo.

Our work pool is a charity event. Participants put in $5 and the winnings go to charity.

We're not supposed to fill out brackets, check scores, etc. during work time.  Yeah, right!  (And we're not supposed to have to work on our personal time, either!)

We actually have a brackets contest but no betting.  The winner gets bragging rights for a year and we all celebrate with ice cream sundaes.

My company blocks all sports-related sites at this time of year, wreaking havoc on those of us who have high school athletes and live in states where it rains.

This is not a "pool" for March Madness - but a department contest to see which department does the best in picking teams.  This is sponsored by HR with the winning department being given a prize of lunch for the entire team.  All in the spirit of teamwork and knowing it is going on anyway!

Since I work in an office that is close to 90% women, sports pools have never been popular.  We do however, have pools to guess birthdates/times for pregnant women.

How Illinois got snubbed out of the tournament - this after their double overtime with Ohio State at the Big Ten Tournament, is beyond me.  I won't be watching the games.

Strictly forbidden, and in three years I have never seen one here.  Then again, I used to be an auditor....

I don't gamble (of any kind), but my wife & I each fill in a bracket so one of us can have braggin' rights for the next year.

They're fun, and they're a way that exec mgmt and ee's can mix and mingle about a fun and harmless topic.

Added camaraderie fostered by pools, especially between bosses and direct reports, is beneficial to the office environment.

The one guy who could always be counted on to have a pool retired last year - so we have been pool-less and I'm bummed!

It makes for an interesting tournament.  You also get exposed to all of the teams and get to see some of the future NBA stars from nod-descript colleges.

I used to do very well against the men I worked with.  Now that I work in an office with mainly women, very few people participate or even pay attention to the tournament.

Since all gaming or entertainment sites are blocked, our office pool has to be done by manually filling out each bracket.

Don't take it seriously.

Company has no gambling policy, which it should.

Yes company has a policy, we can have them but no money can change hands(okay sure). They do monitor our email, and do check for this. However, they run one for our 25,000 employees but no gifts, just bragging rights.


I liked the comment by the reader who said, “The boss runs the pool so I guess the policy is that the pool is encouraged.”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted “If my workplace has a policy, oh well...”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!