Keeping up with their tradition, area attorneys gathered together at the Broadway Brewhouse on Thursday afternoon to watch the opening games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Keeping up with their tradition, area attorneys gathered together at the Broadway Brewhouse on Thursday afternoon to watch the opening games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

“We’ve probably congregated for the last 10 years of either the Big Ten tournament or the opening round of the NCAA to watch Ohio State,” said Bob Stephenson, a Tuscarawas County assistant prosecutor.

Stephenson was joined by his friends — fellow assistant prosecuting attorney Scott Deedrick, and Bob Preston, an attorney with Black, McCuskey, Souers & Arbaugh in Canton.

“It’s like a holiday every year,” Deedrick said about the March Madness atmosphere. “I usually take Thursday and Friday off every year if I can to watch games. It’s just a tradition.”

And that, Deedrick acknowledged, may mean one thing for businesses everywhere: distracted workers.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a global outplacement firm, companies lose at least $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour during the first week of the tournament.

“There are distractions every day at the office, but the first week of the annual men’s college basketball tournament is particularly hazardous to workplace productivity,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a prepared statement. “Of course, there are the office pool participants, some of whom might take five minutes to fill out a bracket, while others spend several hours researching teams, analyzing statistics and completing multiple brackets.”

Mitch Pace of New Philadelphia has been filling out brackets for 16 years and said productivity at work could slip a little bit during March Madness.

Pace said about 30 co-workers at Lauren Illumination in New Philadelphia spent time filling out brackets Wednesday in preparation for the start of the tournament. Pace, who filled out four separate brackets, said he did some research to create the best one.

“What I normally do is I’ll watch SportsCenter a couple days before (the opening round) and I’ll Google standings of each team,” he said. “If somebody is hot, I’ll pick them.”

To keep up with his brackets, Pace said he followed sports apps and ESPN updates on his phone and occasionally checked scores — while at work.

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