On Thursday or Friday of this week, your employer might say something like this. It might not be these exact words and your name might not be Johnson, but this could happen:
"Hey, you! Johnson! Get back to work! What in Sam hell are you doing? I was supposed to have the report on the Johnson (no relation) account three hours ago. Why do you have three computer monitors on your desk? And why are all of those screens playing different basketball games? And why do you have those highlighted bracket things all over the walls? And is that a keg of beer on ice in the corner of your office? You trying to get fired or something?"
To which you can reply: "No sir, it's the NCAA Tournament."
Note: Don't call it March Madness, that sounds like some sort of seasonal disorder, and its very alliterative nature sullies the sanctity and seriousness of this event. Also, it doesn't hurt to call you boss "sir" once in a- while. He'll think he's on Mad Men or something. If your employer is a woman, don't call her "sir" ... or m'am, for that matter.
Upon realizing that the first full two days of the NCAA Tournament have arrived, he or she will likely release a sigh and then remember Federal Labor Statute 247.345.002, section B, clause 2, which, enacted after the mid-major surge of 2006, prevents any employer from terminating an employee for watching tournament games on the clock. This is what's commonly known as the "George Mason Rule." Your H.R. rep will know about it... if he or she is a basketball fan.
It's become nothing short of an American tradition to willfully and flagrantly piss away most of Thursday and Friday, during which a combined 64 games of upset-prone basketball is played, much of it during the West Coast work day and all of it streamed online for free on a site your IT guy is too nerdy to even consider blocking.
Take the day off, you say? [Sigh. Fake fart sound.] You're missing the point, dude. You've earned this as a working American. You're the real hero, remember?
Here are the work-time games you need to watch, OK? Don't sweat it. You boss is gonna be totally cool.
#6 Murray St. vs #11 Colorado St., THURSDAY 9:15 a.m.
This one is early enough you can probably spend some time focusing on it and you should because Murray St. is 30-1 this season and could make a huge run. Or they could lose this opening round matchup. Either way, it's a hell of a way to kick off the tournament.
#5 Vanderbilt vs #12 Harvard: Thursday, 1:40 p.m.
Yes, Vandy did beat Kentucky in the SEC championship game, but you'll want to keep an eye on this one because Harvard isn't just for nerds anymore! It's also for nerds who are damn good at basketball. The Crimson has played well all year and could have easily been a nine seed.
#7 Gonzaga vs #10 West Virginia: Thursday, 4:20 p.m.
With the Pac 12 proving atrocious this year, Gonzaga is the only Northwest team in the tournament and drew a tough slot with a hardscrabble West Virginia team. This is going to be a slugfest between GU's Robert Sacre and WVU's Deniz Kilicli in a big man battle that pits tattoos vs beards, and that could be funny, right?
#3 Florida State vs #14 St. Bonaventure: Friday, 11:45 a.m
FSU downed Duke and North Carolina on consecutive days to take the ACC championship while the Bonnies ran through a tough A-10 tourney. Both teams are hot and you can put this one on upset watch from the tip off while you pretend to, I dunno, make a spreadsheet or whatever it is you do.
#7 St. Mary's vs. #10 Purdue: Friday, 4:27 p.m.
Face it, man. You don't do anything of merit after 4 p.m. on a Friday, so you might as well watch this Midwest-West Coast showdown. St. Mary's is arguably the best team on the West Coast, and they've got a bunch of goofy looking Australians who will drop three balls from just inside the half-court line. If it's a good one down the stretch, call home and say you're working late.