Firm Estimates Fantasy Football Costs American Employers $13 Billion Per Year

Dan Carson@@DrCarson73Trending Lead WriterAugust 13, 2014

A fresh white building interior, flooded with light. A group of people meeting. One person seated separately, using a tablet computer. (Mint Images/AP Images).
Tim Robbins/Associated Press

Your bathroom breaks scrape the 10-minute mark. 

Your phone battery bleeds out by noon. You can hardly look yourself in the eye most Monday mornings.

Why? Why is this happening to you? Because fantasy football is back, and your payday is now a weekly point-count.

Obsessing over fantasy football is a cross most NFL fans bear, and a recent investigation claims the constant fussing over rosters at work is costing American employers a healthy wad of bills.

Brian Ach/Associated Press

The Chicago Tribune’s Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz brings us the story of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement consultancy tasked with the job of determining how much companies are losing in productivity due to workers tinkering with their fantasy lineups on the job.

After dialing in their calculations to workers on private, non-farm payrolls, the firm estimates fantasy football is costing businesses around $13.4 billion annually for the 15-week fantasy football schedule.

Thirteen billion. With a B.

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The same firm estimated in 2012 that fantasy football was costing employers $6.5 billion per year, per Andy Vuong of The Denver Post. So, yes, the costs of lost productivity have doubled in the past two years.

Granted, the company admits that putting a finite figure on fantasy football’s effect on business is "absurd." They also claim they’re not on a witch hunt to end fun in the workplace. 

"We are not trying to demonize fantasy football," CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement, per Elejalde-Ruiz. "It is important to understand that there are more distractions than ever in today’s workplace. If it’s not fantasy football, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip, shopping on Amazon or checking Facebook."

The craziest part about CGC’s estimate is that it’s probably a low one. The company based its calculations guardedly, assuming 59 percent of the 31 million working-age Americans who play fantasy football are only spending two hours a week researching players at work. 

As someone who’s spent two hours a week just hate-staring at Maurice Jones-Drew’s injury icon, I’d call that conservative. 

Maurice Jones-Drew, now with the Raiders.
Maurice Jones-Drew, now with the Raiders.Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In any case, the firm asserts that companies would, ironically, decrease productivity by clamping down on fantasy football, citing the devastation it would have on morale. Instead, they encourage companies to form their own fantasy football leagues to foster camaraderie.

Consider this a TPS report memo, corporate America. Let’s build real teams by building fake teams. 

Fewer meetings, more fantasy. This is my platform. Let’s take America into the playoffs this year.

You did build that team.