Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Are Fantasies a Detriment to National Security?

Clearly, in order to answer this, one must have a clear understanding of our national interest…what must we secure. Would it be in our national interest then to lose more money than the budget for the city of San Francisco with nothing to show for it in the end? Most would say “no”.

In a side-splitting article in the most recent Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard cited an August report from a Chicago research group that showed that US employers lose more than Jamaica’s GNP during the 17 week regular season of the National Football League. “Hey mon” you say, who is the culprit. Well, possibly you. If you recently drafted a roster of players that you will never meet, pay, or interact with, and you refer to them as “your” team, than you are the problem. Fantasy football owners will cost their employers more than $9.2 Billion (BILLION!!!) dollars in lost work over the season (according to Ballard, you could also buy 9 NFL franchises for that amount).

Fantasy football is not alone. Fantasy sports are participated in by fans around the nation in nearly every popular American sport…Baseball, Basketball, Golf, NASCAR, and flipcup (OK, maybe not). In the much shorter three week period of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, fans truly go ‘mad’. In March of every year, fans slip away to check scores, research teams, and fill out their brackets for office polls. Experts argue that more than $3.8 Billion is lost by US employers from the day the NCAA Selection Committee publishes its bracket until the morning after the Championship game. By dividing the loss to employers by the weeks in which the loss takes place, March Madness (or the NCAA Tournament for those that aren’t afflicted by the addiction) trumps Fantasy Football at more than $1.26 Billion per week in lost revenue.

The Olympics also had a huge impact on employers. According to Neilson Online, more than 2 million people visited the video section of www.nbcolympics.com on Aug. 11 -- the first full day of work after the Olympics began. Yahoo!'s Olympic Web site's visitors were up 86 percent in the same time period.

This argument has less to do with America’s addiction to football, and the fantasy fallout of that sport than it does with efficiency in the workplace. Surely, employers lost serious bank while American fixated on media outlets showing the play-by-play assault on Baghdad in 2003. Without fail, Governor Palin has already impacted employers as Americans try to answer the questions, “Who is she?” and “Are there any better pics on Google images?” The election year will certainly affect the employers.

In pure National Security terms, $9.2 and $3.8 billion are hardly a drop in the bucket of the Department of Defense’s $440 billion budget or the $170 billion in extra-budgetary supplements used to help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, when you break down the defense budget, the nation will spend less this year on Missile Defense ($8.8 B), the Joint Strike Fighter ($6.1 B), Future Combat Systems ($3.7 B), and the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships ($1.2 B) than one might estimate is being wasted by Americans and their online games. Though it may be hard to translate a loss by US employers into National Security and defense funding, it goes without saying that Jamaica might want to do its very best to deter its citizens from becoming so infatuated with these distractions.

If the US populace is affected this greatly by fantasy sports, March Madness, and the news in general, one must wonder how it affects soldiers who are operating in combat or in defense of the nation. I can only imagine a Commander in his command post switching windows on his PC when no-one is watching so that he can drop Tom Brady from his roster and add one of Week 1’s rookie heroes. (Perhaps someone on the blog can address this?)

Who knows, maybe the President even spends his valuable time studying for the fantasy draft and shuffling his lineup week to week in order to best match up with his opponents…Dick, Donnie, Condi, who knows? But if he does, then even if it wasn’t before, it is surely a problem of National Security now. http://www.sportspickle.com/features/volume2/2003-0903-bush.html

1 comment:

rhymenoceros said...

While I'm sure employers are losing some productivity, the way these impact studies that assess the 'billions' lost don't always share a common methodology and it's hard to produce accurate numbers. It's hard to say whether all other conditions would've remained equal during the same period in which employees were watching games.

Also, if you've ever been on watch duty , etc. you can get tunnel vision. Brief diversions are a good way to increase your attentiveness after long periods of scanning or monitoring (in military/security professions)

As far as the work place, morale is a big issue - maybe employees will work harder for employers who allow them to do fun things like brackets, etc.