March Madness Tip: Use Sports for Team Building Exercises!

Okay, I kinda missed the boat on the whole March Madness thing but it’s a BIG deal to a lot of people out there. (What do I really care anyways? USC was knocked out in the first round yesterday to Kansas State!). I know a few guys who are prone to calling in sick during the first few days of the games.

And wouldn’t you know? Newsweek is reporting that the annual NCAA basketball tournament costs American companies $1.7B in lost productivity. Yikes! But I believe that incorporating a healthy, non-distracting dose sports-related fun at work can actually be a great team-building tool.

One of the best ways to create coworker camaraderie is through some healthy competition through sports! From setting up office pools to organizing a company softball league, sports can infuse your drab workplace with a much needed dose of fun and collaboration.

Even if you don’t know the difference between a pitcher and a point guard, you can still participate in office pools or fantasy leagues. Instead of fretting over stats and performance data, pick players based on their first names or teams based on their uniform colors (C’mon ladies, you know what I’m talking about! How many athletes do you like purely based on looks?). If you want a more scientific method, just go to and read what the experts have to say — and then copy their picks!

If you’d like to set up an office softball league, bowling night or other activity, here are a few pointers to guarantee a fun and drama-free team-building exercise:

1. Focus on Fun, not Competition: Instead of having a winner and a loser, add additional incentives for each activity you choose. For example, for a bowling night, don’t just reward the highest score – fuel fun competition by making people bowl left-handed, blindfolded, in pairs, etc.

2. Mix it Up: Don’t put all the marketing people in one team and all the SVPs in another team. Mix it up to make sure people are on a team with others they may not interact with on a daily basis.

3. Keep it Organized: You don’t have to keep track of every single minute in a color-coded spreadsheet, but don’t leave things to chance that can be planned ahead. Make sure everyone knows where they have to be, what they have to bring and what they should expect. Have a schedule (with built-in time buffers if things are running late) and – this is very important – make sure everyone is well fed throughout the day so you don’t have any grumbling stomachs (or coworkers).

4. Have Fun! No matter what happens, remember that this event is supposed to be fun. No matter if you win, lose, hit a homerun or strike out, the purpose of this event is to interact with coworkers in a non-work environment. So relax and go with it!


Jovie Baclayon is the editorial director for and an expert in the experiences faced by emerging adults. To learn more, check out Jovie’s YSN portfolio and feel free to e-mail her! She blogs every Wednesday and Friday on Waste Time Wisely.