Winning teams

Raptors rapture can be a welcome escape in the workplace - even for non-sports fans

Winning teams

I’ve never been a big sports fan. Having grown up in a household where watching sports on TV was never a regular occurrence – apart from the odd viewing of Wimbledon tennis or the Masters Tournament at my grandparents’ house – I just never tuned in to watch hockey or baseball or soccer games.

And it’s not I don’t like sports. I used to play soccer as a kid, I did well in track and field, I’ve played baseball on a corporate team and love a good round of frisbee golf (yes, I’d count that as a sport). There’s just usually something else on TV or Netflix I’d like to watch.

And yet I envy the sports talk that goes on at my office. It involves a lingo I don’t really understand but find fascinating, with in-depth discussions of players and strategies and bad calls. It’s on the elevator, in the cafeteria, at people’s desks.

And it’s always widespread just after a big game. Colleagues will go over the main plays of the night before, with groans or laughter, debating the errors and highlights, truly being Monday morning quarterbacks.

So of course with the Toronto Raptors advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, there’s been a lot of basketball buzz at work.

Sure, it can be distracting. All that chatter may not help with workflow as people get caught up in the pre-game or post-game gossip.

Some of the Raptors games don’t end until midnight, leaving people tired and unfocused the next morning. I know I stayed up late for the last few minutes of a couple of games, with no regrets.

There can even be absenteeism. More than one-third (37 per cent) of Canadian office workers said they know of someone who skipped work the day after a major sporting event such as the Super Bowl, according to a 2019 survey by the OfficeTeam.

But really, how often does this happen? It’s been decades, actual decades, since the Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs or Edmonton Oilers have won the championship or playoffs. Even the Raptors have taken a long time to reach such heights.

I was at an event last week – the Wealth Professional awards – where the organizers wisely had arranged for the presentations to end early so people could move to the post-awards lounge and enjoy large screens live-streaming the Raptors game.

So if people have an opportunity to escape the routine of their daily work lives with a few minutes of harmless conversation, why not? It may actually make them more productive as they head back to their desks refreshed and rejuvenated after a quick chat about something other than work.

I’d even wager there are employees who are talking to people they’ve never really connected with before, because of a shared love of (or frustration with) the game, by sharing recaps of the games, and giving their two cents on the matches.

Of course, it’s not like the sports talk would actually be banned in the workplace. But hopefully it will actually be appreciated – if not encouraged -- by sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

With wage increases still low, workloads often high and an uneven job market, we could all use a little escape at work sometimes.

Mind you, if the Oilers, Leafs, Habs or Jays ever start winning again in a big way, I could change my tune.

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