Peter Schrager is a writer for Fox Sports. He shares the tale of an office pool nightmare.
As is the case for most sports fans the Monday after Selection Sunday, I awoke on March 17 to a cluttered inbox filled with various invitations to participate in NCAA Tournament pools. I signed up for a few, sent my checks to the necessary recipients, and promptly filled out a bunch of brackets. One of the pools I signed up for was my buddy Jeff's.
Jeff had just started at a new job about two months ago, was finally getting comfortable in his new environment, and apparently thought it was his place to be the guy to get the office tourney pool going. Taking the reins and being "commissioner" for one of these things is undoubtedly a giant pain in the ass. On top of recruiting enough participants to make it worth everyone's while, you've got to hassle people for money, constantly send out reminder emails about payment and in the end be the point person for everyone's complaints and commentary. To assume this responsibility at a new job in a new office? With people you barely know? Well, that's courageous.
An interesting wrinkle in Jeff's pool was that each participant had to "name" their bracket. I, like most of the other people involved, just used my last name and moved on to filling out my brackets.
But not everyone went that route. The roll call of bracket names looked a lot like a fraternity fantasy football league — inside jokes between three people, endless references to "Anchorman" and on the whole, just some really lame stuff.
A few examples? "My Bracket's Already Busted" (LOL!), "Burgundy's Back" (OMG!), "March Madnoose" (LOL!), and the clever old standby, "Duke Sucks" (LMAO!).
In all, Jeff recruited about 80 participants. Not bad for a first effort at the new job. Fifty or so of the players were from his office, about 20 were non-work related friends, and roughly 10 were friends of friends that he really didn't know. Everyone paid within the first couple days, and all the brackets were all filled out. By the time the games tipped off on Thursday, Jeff was pretty satisfied. On the one hand, he'd just organized a pretty big pool for people to follow throughout the tournament. On the other, he showed some of the folks at work his ability to motivate and manage a project.
But a few days in, things had gone horribly wrong.
As of this morning, the second place team in Jeff's pool is a bracket named "Stevens". Third place? "Lil' Mac". Fourth? "Janice".
"____ Meat". That blank space? Well, the word rhymes with Blit.
Yep, "Blit Meat."
Now, put yourself in Jeff's shoes. New job. Fifty new co-workers. Some are Vice Presidents and Managing Directors. Several are women. And they all log in to check those standings each morning.
What's the first thing every single one of them sees when they click on that standings button?
"Blit Meat" all alone on top in first place.
"Walking on egg shells" does this situation no justice. Jeff, Woody Allen paranoid as is, claims everyone gives him disgusted looks at work now. He swears he caught some of the other pool participants pointing, whispering and shaking their heads at him in the company cafeteria the other day. He's a marked man. All because of his pool.
All because of "Blit Meat."
Now, here's the kicker: Jeff has no idea who "Blit Meat" is. And even crazier — "Blit Meat's" bracket is absolutely incredible. It's downright dominating the pool. He/she has Villanova and Davidson both in the Sweet 16, they accurately predicted San Diego to beat Connecticut, and somehow had Drake falling to Western Kentucky in the first round too. "Blit Meat" has Michigan State beating Memphis. If that happens — something no one else in the pool has — there's a good chance he/she wins the whole thing.
Jeff's job may very well be in jeopardy over this. Every morning, his co-workers check the standings and see the words "Blit Meat" in bold letters.
The lesson? Always let someone else run your office tournament pool. Always.