Let's Dance! How to Get Your Pharmacy Involved with NCAA March Madness!

Whether you are a newbie like me or a serious fan, I’ve listed a few ways for your pharmacy to build some rapport and have some good-natured competition during this year’s Marhc Madness tournament

As the weather starts to turn and you shake off the cold winter months, there’s much to get excited about in the month of March. Daylight savings began this weekend for many of us, so we will be getting more time in the sun. And everybody becomes Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

But the highlight of the month for most people is March Madness. Many of you who aren’t big sports fans may have noticed that brackets are everywhere.

Everyone seems to be talking about brackets and the Big Dance on Facebook, Twitter, and all across the Internet.

So, what is this March Madness that consumes the country?

It’s the college basketball tournament that is held to determine the NCAA champion for the year!

The tournament begins the second week of March. It includes 68 teams from across the country. There is a men’s and a women’s tournament that lasts into April. While I’ve always heard my family talk about March Madness, it wasn’t until 2011 when my Alma Mater, VCU made it to the final 4 that I started watching before the championship games. That year, VCU surprised everyone as the Cinderella Team, winning 5 games to make it to the final 4 and became the talk of the tournament. It was an exciting season.

Over the years I have become more interested in March Madness and last year I completed my own bracket

- thanks to my family who are all huge basketball fans (Go Duke!).

I

didn’t realize how much fun it could be. Whether you are a newbie like me or a serious fan,

I’ve listed a few ways for your pharmacy to build some rapport and have some good-natured competition during this year’s tournament with some helpful tips from my future son-in-law.

Run a March Madness Pool

With so many schools involved, the NCAA tournament is immensely popular because of the randomness of the results. Schools are seeded according to their record and the highest seeded teams play the lower seeded teams. There are 4 regions with teams seeded 1 through 16 in each region. Each team will play in a single elimination round until there is one remaining team that is crowned the champion!

While on paper, there should be no question who wins, but March Madness is known for its “Cinderella” teams. There always seems to be a school that is seeded low and surprises everyone buy beating teams that they are not expected to beat. Experts and amateurs alike will do their best to predict all the winners, but the odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 0.2 quintillion!

In the end, there truly is no expert in picking winners, so anyone has a chance to win! If your pharmacy wants to get involved, why not join in the fun? Give everyone a bracket and have them put in an entry amount so that the winner will get the money at the end of the tournament. If you don’t want to gamble, you can let the staff submit brackets for a prize or a trophy! You’d be surprised how bragging rights itself is a great prize for many.

Scoring can be tricky, but generally, you get points for how many correct predictions you make. There are several websites out there that allow you to run the pools at no cost.

Three of the most popular websites to create your own office pool are: 1) ESPN.com 2) Yahoo.com and 3) CBSports.com. These sites are great because it will do all the hard work for you — the brackets are stored there and scoring is done automatically in real time. Make sure to get your picks in though before the games tip off with the first 4 on March 14th of this year.

Watch the Games Together

Now that you have your bracket filled out, the fun part is to watch the games! Every game is now televised or streamed for free on the Internet. Since the first week of the tournament takes place at noon during the workweek, many offices across the country come to a screeching halt as everybody watches the tournament.

It’s been estimated that employers will lose almost $1.3 BILLION in pay due to slacking employees who are checking their phone or computer for score updates during the first week of the tournament.

My suggestion is to take advantage of the hype and create some bonding with your pharmacy team and your patients. While you can’t close down the pharmacy, you can put up laptops, tablets, or computers with the games for everyone to keep an eye on the results. If you have a TV, you can broadcast it for your patients. It is amazing how many conversations March Madness can ignite in and out of the pharmacy.

You can access the games at www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live or you can download the March Madness app on Iphone or Android to watch on your tablets. If your office is running a pool, the stakes will be even higher as the first 2 rounds are usually the ones filled with the most upsets. I’ve heard stories from my family where they tore up their brackets as one upset win busted their entire chance to win.

Even if you don’t have a bracket, people can appreciate seeing David-and-Goliath type games involving blueblood programs like Kentucky or Duke facing elimination from a plucky underdog from a small college in Georgia. It’s truly an amazing moment to see favorites humbled as small college teams live out their dreams in NCAA history. The broadcasters time the games to end right after each other, so often, you will be watching nail-biters end one right after another.

I personally don’t take it quite so seriously, but some of my friends and family do. If you are a diehard fan or just really love your alma mater, make sure to take your heart medication as these games end up having some amazing buzzer-beater endings.

Make It a Party

Everyone loves to eat. Think tailgate style food and let everyone share amazing basketball while enjoying some good-natured ribbing over how bad their bracket picks are this year.

Treat the staff to lunch or make it potluck. You might be amazed if some of your staff is from all across the country. Some schools or regions are known for a specific food. You might enjoy fried chicken, pulled pork, or maybe even a Buckeye from an Ohio State native like me (even if they aren’t playing in the tournament this year)

Let the staff decorate the pharmacy with their favorite team colors or even wear their team colors. The decorations and team colors will definitely be a conversation starter with your patients. Many of your patients will love the upbeat attitude the March Madness Celebration provides and be quick to let you know which team they have picked this year.

The beauty of the tournament is that it involves 68 schools from across the country. No matter where you are in the United States, there is almost always a school that that the community seems to support. But don’t worry! Even when the pharmacy staff can’t all agree on a single team to support, friendly rivalries will keep it interesting. At my current position as a hospital pharmacist in Richlands, Virginia, we are close to several schools that have made appearances in March Madness in the past. Just in this area alone, we have schools like Liberty, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Tennessee and James Madison, and we are not to far from Kentucky and WVU as well. I know family and friends who like each of these teams and love to tactfully share the highlights from their victory when given the chance.

Enjoy The Dance

The beauty of the tournament is that there are no true experts. Strategies on picking winners can be as random as which school has the coolest mascot or which team has the prettiest uniforms! People have won tournaments with educated guessing combined with a flipping of the coin. My family members all have different methods; last year I picked the teams randomly and I ended up finishing in the top 3 with very little knowledge!

Participating in a pool sure made watching the games more exciting. Before participating last year, I couldn’t tell you where or what a Gonzaga was! Thanks to March Madness, I was rooting hard for them last year AND I learned that they are a small private school in Seattle. This school made it back this year with an impressive record and are expected to make it to the Final Four by many.

March Madness is the perfect distraction from unpredictable weather. It is always interesting to see everyone’s picks and wonder what your friend’s or family’s strategy will be. I hope you have some fun with it, build some team morale, and get your patients and staff in the mood for some March Madness this week !