March Madness is a disease apparently specific to the USA, and specific further to the time-slot March 14 and March 19.

What happens in the USA during these dates? That's when activity surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament is at its height.

What is the NCAA? The National Collegiate Athletic Association.

So does that mean the Association affiliates only colleges? Yes.

Why does the whole nation suffer from "March Madness" because of a basketball championship in which only colleges can participate? That's a good question to ask Americans. I haven't yet received a satisfactory answer....

Is there any other country in the world where a similar "madness" grips an entire nation because some young people choose to leap up and down a marked court, throwing a round bit of leather filled with air? Well, truth to tell, I can't think of any.

So what symptoms does "march madness" display? Never having been in the USA during those months (I haven't actually visited the USA that often, and when I have it has, with one exception, always either for conferences or to give one or more lectures, so I don't speak from first-hand observation), I can only tell you that apparently nearly every worker participates in gambling on the results organised within the office; all the gossip focuses on the matches, teams and players; and everyone is obsessed with watching videos of the matches.

A company called Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. (which describes itself as the USA's "first, oldest and premier outplacement consulting organization") has calculated the "business cost" of the Madness. By "business cost" it means all the salaries paid by employers but not used by employees for the purpose for which they are employed.

What is the "business cost" according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas? $1.8 billion.

That's an impressive figure.

In that calculation, I wonder if they factored in the BENEFITS to the businesses from the team-feeling that is built up by all the gossip, the joint-watching of matches and videos, and so on?

Prabhu Guptara