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Will bosses cry foul over MLB playoffs?
Firm estimates lost productivity of $225M from postseason games as workers watch, talk baseball.
October 4, 2005: 8:10 AM EDT
Baseball playoffs will cost employers in eight cities an estimated $225 million in lost worker productivity beginning Tuesday.
Baseball playoffs will cost employers in eight cities an estimated $225 million in lost worker productivity beginning Tuesday, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
SportsBiz SportsBiz Column archive Sports Illustrated email Chris Isidore

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Major League Baseball's playoffs start Tuesday afternoon, and so do productivity losses for U.S. employers, according to the latest estimate from an employment firm.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the playoff schedule will cost employers about $225 million this year, as employees either talk about the games or try to follow their progress during working hours.

"Right now, the divisional playoffs will have at least five games played during business hours. This could lead to unscheduled absences, early departures or, at the very least, a significant workday distraction," said John A. Challenger, CEO of the firm.

The first scheduled game is between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres, in a game set to start at 1:09 p.m. ET on Tuesday. At 4:09 p.m., the Boston Red Sox begin defense of their world championship with a game against the Chicago White Sox. (Click here for SI.com's coverage of baseball's playoffs.)

Challenger said that it's not just work-hour games that could cause problems. He points out that productivity could take a hit in New York after the Yankees play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game 2, which is scheduled to start at 10:09 p.m. ET on Wednesday and is not likely to end until close to 2 a.m., given the recent length of postseason games. Even the Wednesday night Angels-Yankee game, which starts at 8:09 p.m. ET, might not end until close to midnight.

The other playoff matchup has the Atlanta Braves facing the Houston Astros in a series set to begin at 4:09 p.m. Wednesday.

Challenger's estimate of a $225 million cost to employers is based on an average of a half-hour of lost worker productivity in each of the eight playoff cities, using the average pay in those cities. He said that while not every employee is going to follow or talk about the games, that could be balanced by employees who closely follow the action during working hours.

Challenger said that the lost productivity shouldn't make a dent in the economies of the eight cities involved, however.

"A little downtime even three hours' worth is unlikely even to register a blip on the economic radar for these cities, all of which are in the top 25 in terms of gross metropolitan product," he said. "Together, these cities manage economic output of more than $1.6 trillion in products and services every year. It would take a major business shutdown lasting several days or weeks to put these economies at risk."

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For a look at what baseball's postseason schedule means for viewership of the games, click here.

For a further look at the business of sports, click here.  Top of page

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