Fantasy FootBall Can Get You Fired – Score!

by Darwin on September 14, 2010

As you fire up your fantasy football leagues for this year, have you considered that you could actually lose your job for participating in this seemingly innocuous bonding exercise with your co-workers?  I was shocked to read an article in this week’s BusinessWeek outlining various stories where employees were brought in, interrogated over their involvement in the fantasy football craze and then summarily fired!  Here are some excerpts:

“In a study conducted by outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, half the people surveyed admitted that they spend at least one hour per day thinking about their fantasy football team.”

“He was taken into a conference room and interrogated about his fantasy football activities for, by Pettigrew’s estimate, 90 minutes. “It seemed so over the top,” Pettigrew remembers. “They were really intent on getting me to name names.”

After quitting his job to focus on fantasy football didn’t pan out…”

OK, that last guy above has problems, quitting a real job to play fantasy football.  But this interrogation business sounds like Abu Gharib – over Fantasy Football?

I never really thought about firings over fantasy football before, but I guess if people are following the letter of the law of company policy, they could be within the guidelines in terminating over gambling and inappropriate use of company resources.

Personally, I haven’t even watched football games aside from the Superbowl in years, so I’ve never joined a pool.  Kids and other priorities have taken over since my college days when I could waste away a weekend watching football.  But I hear co-workers and friends talking about their leagues and their stats all the time and I can say it would come as a complete and utter shock if anyone was ever terminated over it.

On one hand, OK, I guess it is “gambling” and I do see printouts of people’s rosters in the bathroom stall.  And surely, they check their stats on the web.  So, terminable I guess.  However, what about all the people talking to their spouse on the phone?  What about the house hunter checking out new houses online?  What about the ladies checking out the fashion sites and gossip columns over lunch?  I would like to assume it comes down to what’s reasonable vs. what’s an abuse of company resources.

Similar to the recent post on Getting Fired Over 2 Cents, in this economy, employees should certainly be thinking about how to retain their jobs vs. what they can get away with, but managers should also be exercising some prudence in these decisions.  I mean, not even a warning?  With what it costs to attract, retain and develop an employee, I’d think it would be much more cost-beneficial to simply warn the employee about internet use and company policies over terminating.  But then again, maybe this is the new layoff – it saves a ton on severance and technically, it may be completely aligned with company policy so no legal hassles to content with.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Should Fantasy Football Leagues in the Workplace Result in Firings?

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