Basketball, bandwidth and national security

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is “madness” and lots of fun. But with the games ready to go in rapid fire this afternoon, we can already feel the country’s productivity sinking.

Between employees eating the corporate bandwidth to watch games online at work and other employees not showing up at all, NCAA-related sloth will cost companies about $175 million in lost productivity today and Friday, the first two full days of the tournament, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Turns out, it may also be a national security issue. The Annapolis, Md., newspaper reports the tournament might conflict with slightly more important tasks — like the nation’s defense.

“March Madness. You wouldn’t think of it as a cyber threat, would you?” said Mark Orndorff, the chief information assurance executive for the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, during a recent meeting held by the Fort Meade Alliance in Linthicum.

“But it really is, because we’re going to be conducting military operations on our network at the same time a whole bunch of DoD employees are going to want to be checking on” the games.

That’s pretty shocking. And I’d love to take some time to explore the implications in detail. But if I don’t get my bracket done in, like, 10 minutes I’m out of the office pool.

— Paul Tosto

  • Kassie

    This is why we need more holidays in this country. While March Madness happens over too long of a time period to give us all days off, it wouldn’t hurt to have holidays aligned with important cultural events like this. We have so few holidays compared to a lot of counties. And when I see the miserable vacation packages some of my friends in the public sector get, I weep. Holidays and vacation days are good for our economy. People feeling they have to go to work when their favorite team is playing, isn’t.

  • John O.

    Increasingly, businesses, schools and government block access to not only websites of nefarious content, but they also are increasingly blocking sites that require significant amounts of bandwidth.

    Even if this is done, there will still be those who will watch via their smartphone.

    If I were a huge NCAA hoops fan, I’d probably consider taking these days off from work.