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A Shocking Number of Employees Are Watching Sports at Work

The Ethical Issues Explored

I recently read a survey about the number of employees that watch sports at work and I was startled by the results. The survey was prepared by Digital Third Coast and can be accessed by clicking on this link. I wasn’t surprised that workers who are sports fans check the scores of games online while at work. I was surprised by the time devoted to sports watching in one form or another at work and that some have skipped work to attend an event. I have to wonder whether they still expected to get paid for this time and expect that they did. So we have an ethical issue in the habits of workers who devote time to sports watching in some fashion during the work day.

The survey of more than 1,500 sports fans across 40 different industries around the country was designed to ask them about their relationship with sports at work.

  • 71% admit to checking sports scores or reading about sports while they're working, and a quarter say they do it every day.
  • Overall, sports fans use up about 49 minutes of their day to check scores or read up on sports at work.
  • 73% admit to watching sports at work. And that number is even higher among remote or hybrid workers at 86%.
  • 61% of sports fans say they've hidden in a restroom at work just to watch a game or check up on a score.
  • 54% have snuck out of work early to attend a sporting event or game.


Another startling results is the percentage of employees who would accept a pay cut in order to watch sports at work without being penalized. This speaks to a lack of work ethic and the pursuit of self-interest.

Pay-Cut-for-Sports-1-1024x869 (1)Further, about 50 percent of workers called in sick to attend a game, another indication of putting one's elf-interest ahead of working hard and devoting oneself to the job.

Sports-at-Work-2-1-1024x607I wondered about whistleblowing and catching employees watching sports at work. The results should give pause to anyone contemplating watching sports at work.


I suppose it's not that surprising that employees devote a significant amount of time to watching sports at work. A Pew Research survey shows that employees spend a significant amount of time at work largely for personal reasons.


The fact is in today's environment employers should build in time to allow employees to use social media at work but keep it strictly controlled. It seems to me one hour is reasonable split evenly between work hours, and during lunch and on breaks. In the long run if they do not it is quite possible employees will leave their jobs and go elsewhere. 

Social media is an integral part of our lives. Allowances should be made for it at work to have a happy workplace and build esprit de corps.

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on July 28, 2021. Steve is the author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: Follow him on Facebook at: and on Twitter at: