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World Cup brings professionals together – in slacking off on the job

Those reports will just have to wait until halftime.
Those reports will just have to wait until halftime. - (Photo / )

Well, the 2014 World Cup goes on, but not with the U.S. team.

Our boys played valiantly during Tuesday’s match against Belgium, but ultimately lost the game – eliminating them from the competition.

Now, the big question on everyone’s mind is … What the heck are we supposed to do now at work?

Whether it was true soccer fandom or perhaps just a spike of good old-fashioned patriotic pride, offices in the Greater Lehigh Valley have been abuzz with World Cup talk.

But it hasn’t been just talk. Thanks to most office workers having their own personal desk computer and that nifty office Internet connection, many people were watching the U.S. in action on the company dime and on the company’s computer.

While some office workers may have found themselves thwarted by a corporate firewall or an overly attentive boss, the chatter on social media made it clear that a good number of people had ESPN.com or Univision.com streaming on their desktop while supposedly doing other work.

For those who couldn’t get the game online, many still slipped it onto their mobile phone. If you had listened carefully this week, you probably would have heard a muted “goooooaaaaaaal” coming from someone’s pocket.

Also, with U.S. games being played at noon and 4 p.m. on recent workdays, you can bet more than a few people took a “long lunch” or left work early for an important “meeting” that just conveniently happened to be at the same time as the U.S. World Cup games.

Based on the Facebook photos I saw, there certainly were a lot of people at the game-watching party at SteelStacks in Bethlehem during those games.

But honestly, if people were being truthful in their social media posts – and I do believe they were -- it seems like there was relatively little sneaking around.

Perhaps it was that sense of American pride that made many managers turn a blind eye to any desktop cheering.

Or maybe those managers were busy in their own office listening to the game themselves.

Either way, it seemed that there was an unprecedented amount of people watching sports at work over the past couple of weeks.

I did have one local professional try to hide it – but I won’t name names.

I had an interview scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on the day the U.S. played Germany at noon.

My phone rang around 12:45, just as the game broke for halftime and the players started walking off the field. It was my interviewee asking if we could do the interview a little early.

The coincidence was too obvious to ignore, so I asked her.

“Did you call me early so you could get the interview in during halftime?”

After a short awkward pause, she gave me an embarrassed “yes,” and offered to call me back later.

I laughed. No, I wanted to keep an eye on the game, too. We had time to do the interview and get her back to the game.

Perhaps now that the U.S. is – sadly – out of the competition, everyone can get back to productivity – not that we weren’t typing and cheering at the same time.

Or maybe not. One local economic development official, who asked not to be named, said that from people are saying, interest in the World Cup may be ongoing.

“I don’t think the distraction is over. People seem to have started to appreciate it as one of the greatest sporting events in the world,” he said.

They’ll still be watching, just maybe in smaller numbers.

So keep an ear out for those shouts of “gooooooal” from the supply room.

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