Were you ever a tournament bracket pool organizer in the days that predated online bracket managers? It was a different animal back then when it was all done on paper. Pool organizers had their work cut out for them! They earned the right to be called “Commissioner,” although it was technically bad form to actually ask people to refer to you as such.
Scoring the sheets back then meant copiously sifting through a huge stack of 8.5 x11 papers with copies of participants’ brackets. Unbelievably, at least one person per year chose to copy their clearly horizontally-oriented brackets onto a vertically-oriented sheet of paper. Hopefully this was not so for the office’s engineers or graphic designers.
Lacking uniformity notwithstanding, Commishes went through each participant’s sheet and, for each game, they hand-scored (red circles for correct, and black strike-throughs for wrong) the guesswork. Afterward, Commissioners took info from all the individual sheets and recorded it onto a separate pool standings sheet.
The Standings sheet was found taped crookedly to the frame of the office doorway first thing Monday morning at work.
Were you a commissioner back then?Do you remember all the times you had to perform handwriting analysis in your living room, wondering which moron coworker of yours forgot to put a name on her or his bracket sheet?
Do you remember trying to read John’s goddamned chicken scratch handwriting that somehow made it impossible to tell whether he had written “THE Ohio State University” or “Duke”?
Do you remember wondering why the hell Karen bothered to abbreviate Kentucky by writing “Kent’cky”?
Oh, and how much did you deeeeeee-sssssssssspiiiiiiiiiiise Carl for using his bracket sheet to show off his knowledge of non-major mascots? As in, noting the “‘Jacks” would win their first round game rather than writing SF Austin, Austin, or even just SFA. Cute, Carl, but I’m scoring about 45 of these friggin’ sheets by hand and the more uniformly they are filled out the better chance I will get this round’s results posted before you sashay into my office and ask, “Heyyyy! You got the results done yet? How’d I do?”
It was often the Carls of the bracket universe whose brackets were copied on a vertical sheet of paper.
Commissioners from back then, how much did you loooooooooooove it when Carl had way more misses in the first rounds than both Mark and Marcia, the office’s notoriously, gloriously good-natured non-sports fans who picked their winners based on “places I’d like to travel” and “how much I liked the team colors,” respectively.
Shortly after Selection Sunday this year I saw that there are now calculations of the amount of money lost in businesses due to the tournament (worker time off, workers watching or bracketing on work time, etc.), and it is given in billions. I don’t doubt it.
However, I would like to offer a tiny offset to the cost in worker time/attention by mentioning that back in the 1990’s, participation in tournament pools actually made some of us better employees. I am certain that there were many who finally committed to learning how to use their office copy machine’s extra features just because of the tournament. I don’t just mean the copy feature. I mean the resize feature, because they needed to reduce the HUGE image of the brackets that came out in the center spread of the sports page. After much reduction and recopying, one could make it fit on regular paper (sideways, please, Carl).
Long after the tournament champs were crowned, employees retained their copier skills and confidence. This was long before paperless was an option, let alone a goal. I believe copy machine proficiency may have been a resume item back then. It was probably acceptable to include impeccable Commissioneering among the skills you could contribute to a workplace. And actually, back then there were real skills involved, and skills developed. It was a project. It had an audience, firm deadlines, communication and calculation involved. It may or may not have involved cash dollars.
By way of personal example I’ll admit that the reason I got comfortable and creative writing spreadsheet formulas was to calculate scoring for the office pool I ran in 1997.
As for the here and now: If you organized an NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball bracket pool this year, in 2015, you are a funmaker. Good job for taking initiative to channel the fun of the tournament into something you could enjoy with others.
You originated a pool online somewhere and invited folks to join. Maybe you included your father-in-law whose alma mater will never see round two anywhere except on his sheet. Maybe you included Margie from the office who cares not about basketball but absolutely loves just being included in anything. By the way, please include her more often.
Once your participants created an online account and a cool, funny or faux-badass username they were good to go, and frankly, so were you. The site or app has maintained the whole thing, from scoring to reporting standings, which is AWESOME!
I congratulate you on using the tournament to build some fun and community in your office, but let me beat you to the, “Awww, shucks, it was no big deal.” Because awwww, shucks, man, compared to the days before online bracket managers, it really was no big deal.