Over 60 million people have filled out a bracket and have a stake in the outcome of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The tournament has appeal for fans and non-basketball fans alike.

Sports writer Frank Deford, comments on the popularity of the tournament,

“It’s the largest national single-elimination competition anywhere in the world. Every game, all 67 of them, the losing team is sent home…In a nation that prides itself on second chances, there are none.”

There are many offshoots of the brackets including the Say Yes to the Dress Wedding Dress bracket, Kanye West’s best song bracket, the top Disney ride and Game of brackets. The attraction of the brackets—whether basketball or pop culture—is, according to Brett Frischmann, professor of Law, Business and Economics at Villanova University, in a Salon article, that “when we fill out a bracket, we are predictably irrational and distinctly human. We’re influenced by our emotions — love and hate — and a myriad of irrational factors — the most amusing mascots, the flashiest coaches, underdog status, the deep-rooted rivalries and even the rowdiness of a school’s fan base. “

The tournament also has lessons for PR agencies, account directors, business owners and team leaders. In the real world as in the tournament, the stakes are high and one has to work hard to emerge a winner.


Everyone likes a story in which a smaller competitor takes on and defeats the mighty competitor. In business, when competitors, media, influencers, current and prospective clients are ready to count you out, that is the time for the team to unite, create strong products, services and content, and demonstrate results to make success even sweeter.


John C. Maxwell coined the phrase, “teamwork makes the dream work,” recognizing the importance of collaboration and cooperation to achieve success. In basketball, the assists are just as important as the baskets scored. On a work team, everyone has something to contribute and support roles are as important as the person working directly with the customer. Encourage your team members to work hard and see how they can bring out the best in others.


Neither pleasing clients nor winning basketball games is easy. Things do not always go as planned, consequently it is important to have a back-up plan. This can include stepping back as a leader and letting the team, which is close to the action, make some of their own decisions based on situational awareness of current circumstances. A good leader knows what individuals and the team working together can accomplish.


The way to know your team has needed information is via preparation and practice. As the saying goes, “you play the way you practice.” At practice, one builds skills that become habits to be prepared for any situation. In the workplace, training and ongoing feedback help workers to build skills in order to focus on executing their roles without added nervousness.


The most important lesson from March Madness may be the role the coach plays in providing the players with the right tools to be able to take responsibility for their actions. The coach or team leader’s job is to get everyone onboard with the same vision and goal. Successes are celebrated and mistakes are examined for lessons to be learned.

As you watch the basketball games, take some time to think of how the lessons of sportsmanship can be used in the workplace.