There's a chance you're reading this online, and there's a chance you're at work. Chances are you're not the only one.
Websense Inc., a company touting itself as a "world leader of employee Internet management software," announced this week that corporate America stands to lose $400-million in productivity because of workers checking on the NCAA basketball tournament online. No word on whether this accounts for the thousands of dedicated staffers not online, simply because they had the sense to call in sick and watch from home.
The company cites research estimating that the average sports fan will spend 1.5 hours per week online between now and the Final Four. The company sees this as a march to madness, of course, and suggests corporations "establish a clearly written Internet access policy that informs employees about appropriate and inappropriate Internet use during work hours."
We'll stop just short of such bracketeering charges and instead establish a clearly written guide to inform you about appropriate sites where you can, er, continue working diligently. Everyone now: Glance out of your cubicle, look left, right, then left again, then proceed to these sites:
+ finalfour.net: The tournament's official site looks sharp, much like NBC's Olympics site last year, which also was produced by Quokka Sports. The "TotalCast Live" feature offers every stat you can imagine from a game, as a ticker updates every point, foul, rebound, etc. It's better as a complement to TV than by itself _ there's no sense of the excitement or tension involved. Like a few high seeds, the site went down for a spell Thursday afternoon, apparently overwhelmed by high traffic.
+ basketball.com: This one's inappropriate. Great name, bad site. Its lead college headline Thursday was, "Fuller's contract not renewed at Morgan State."
+ ganza.com: As in extravaganza _ a 16-year-old NCAA pool that has its own T-shirts. It's too late now, but it costs a buck to enter, and while no cash prize is awarded, the winner has the honor and prestige of owning the Ostertag Plaque. Three people nailed 30 of 32 first-round games last year, so this isn't to be taken lightly.
+ goduke.com: Everybody's picking the Devils, so we include their official site. Duke spent $50,000 two years ago to install six high-speed Internet access lines in the base of street lamps near Krzyzewskiville, the tent city where students camp out before games. For $11, you can buy the team's poster, with Devils decked out in tuxes with the title "The Big Dance."
+ oneshiningmoment.com: The unavoidable theme song CBS has trotted out after each of the past 13 championships has its own site. "One of the greatest songs about sport" is available on CD for $10 plus shipping, but why stop there? Hats are just $15. You'll fight back tears as you brush up on the lyrics, especially the chorus, WHICH IS TYPED ALL IN CAPS!
TID-BYTES: NASCAR.com was the Internet's second-most popular sports site in February, recording 4.1-million unique visitors and more than doubling its high. By comparison, NFL.com had 4.56-million in January. ESPNradio.com launched this week, offering live audio broadcasts online of its daily lineup, which includes the Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser shows. Two things you don't normally put together: Norman Rockwell and eBay. The original oil painting of Rockwell's "The Dugout" is up for auction until Saturday night, with bidding at $175,100 Thursday.
_ If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1aol.com.