By Glynn Cosker
Contributor, Online Career Tips
At one of my former companies, I returned to my desk after being absent for a couple of hours, wiping tears from my eyes. My colleague asked me the usual questions. “Are you OK?” “What happened?” “Do you need help?”
“It’s OK,” I replied. “I just need some time to gather myself together. It’s horrible, it’s just horrible.” My colleague pressed me further.
“If there is anything I can do to help, let me know,” she said.
“There’s nothing you can do,” I gushed. “It’s over.”
“Goodness, not with your wife, surely?” said my colleague.
“No,” I replied. “It’s the World Cup. England just lost to Argentina on penalties.” Then, I broke down and sobbed. My colleague rolled her eyes and then went back to her desk. By the way—yes—I’m from England.
With my mentioning of the World Cup, your reaction was likely one of two things: “Yawn!” or “Yeah!” You either love or hate the world’s largest sporting event.
In the U.S., the premier sporting event that puts every manager on alert is the “March Madness” college basketball tournament. According to estimates, the tournament costs U.S. companies more than $1 billion in lost revenue due to employee unproductivity. With soccer’s growing popularity in our nation, the World Cup is a close second to March Madness—particularly since the U.S. is comprised of millions of people who grew up playing and watching soccer (or football, as it’s known to the masses).
There are no estimates on how much this year’s World Cup in Brazil will cost U.S. companies, but according to InsideView the last tournament in 2010 recorded a $121 million loss in revenues in the U.S. and a whopping $7.3 billion loss in the U.K. Those stats are mind-boggling.
However, my story—which by the way relates to England’s devastating loss to Argentina in the second round of the 1998 World Cup tournament in France—is quite typical. No matter what one’s job is, if you have soccer running through your veins there is no escaping the pull of the World Cup. Some people would rather quit their jobs than miss a vital match. It’s that serious.
In Brazil, the country basically shuts down when their national team is playing. Forget about unproductivity in Rio de Janeiro, it’s actually a case of citywide non-productivity.
Will some cities in the United States ever match Rio for their passion to have the World Cup beat out working? It’s highly doubtful.
For now though bosses, if you have an employee who you can see is wearing a soccer jersey under his or her work attire—cut them just a little bit of slack. It’s the World Cup!
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