BANGALORE, India. Vijay Hazare appears to be working at his computer at a call center in this southern Indian city, but his impish smile betrays a secret. “Today is draft day in my fantasy cricket league,” he says as he taps out his first round pick, Gulabrai Ramchand, a wicketkeeper for the New Delhi Mets. “I hope to field a team that will crush its opponents like Shiva!” he says, referring to the Hindu god of destruction.
Hazare and other Indian males like him are part of a trend that threatens to undercut the gains his poverty-stricken nation have made by attracting American businesses with the promise of a highly-educated work force that is satisfied with low wages and no health insurance. Outsourced service sector work can be mind-numbingly boring, and Hazare and his colleagues have discovered what many U.S. males call their number one fringe benefit–the ability to waste time at desk-top computers with fantasy sports leagues, NCAA Final Four betting pools and other sports-related diversions without detection.
Fantasy sports leagues play a significant role in the low productivity of American male workers in white collar jobs, according to Claude Thornton, a researcher at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Your average U.S. man who uses a computer at work spends 26% of his day checking sports scores and making fantasy trades. Another 24% is spent on lunch and coffee breaks, 40% is spent fantasizing about the receptionist’s breasts, and 5% going to the bathroom, leaving only 25% of the day for actual work.” When a reporter pointed that out these figures didn’t add up to 100%, Thornton became defensive. “Picky, picky,” he said as he ended the interview.
“Your blouse is not back from Bangalore yet.”
Most jobs outsourced to low-wage countries consist of tasks that do not involve face-to-face customer contact, but the pressures of globalization may force more personalized types of service offshore as well. “My dry cleaner lost a button on one of my blouses and I had to go to Bangalore to get it,” complained Marci Mangel-Lipton, a Newton, Mass. housewife. “If I hadn’t bought it on sale it wouldn’t have been worth the trip.”
“You’re silly mid off? I thought I was.”
Cricket is a game similar to baseball that is played in many countries such as India that were once British colonies. There are twelve players on a side, many with odd-sounding names like “deep fine leg,” “silly mid off,” and “short mid wicket.” A game can take several days, causing the decline and fall of entire empires when players do not return to assigned military posts.
Chained to his desk.
But that doesn’t discourage Hazare as he presses the “enter” key on his computer to pick Rahul Dravid, a “square short leg” on the Calcutta Hurricanes for his fantasy squad, “Vijay’s Vipers.” “If I must be chained to my desk all day,” he says as his office manager checks the lock on his leg shackle, “at least let me have some fun!”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “This Just In–From Gerbil Sports Network.”