In sophomore or junior year of college, I sent out a feeler Facebook status to see whom would be interested in joining a fantasy football league. This was by no means a declaration that I had created a league for other to join at my benevolent choosing. But it soon wound up that, for lack of any other voices, I was the league commissioner. No big deal. These things take care of themselves in the Internet Age. I assumed my sole responsibility was to send out invites and let the chips draft where they may.
For the love of God, don’t assume this.
Even amongst college buddies, being the commish of an ESPN.com Fantasy Football League is nowhere near as powerless as it sounds. You may have seen the How I Met Your Mother episode about Marshall being the ‘Fantasy League Guy’ who had to keep track of transactions by hand and assumed it was hilariously outdated; in many ways, it was not. So, before your lifelong friendships are at the razor’s edge over your total inability to lead virtually, adhere to these Ten Commandments.
Rule 1: Decide where and how the money will be stored in advance.
These are my buddies I’m talking about. Why go through the complicated route of online banking, accounts, and liability? They’re good for it. And it turns out they actually were. More than half of them paid me without being asked. So the money sat there in the top drawer of my dresser, most of it anyway. Pretty simple: don’t touch it.
Ah, but friends, alcohol and Taco Bell are cruel sirens of the deep for a college student. And besides, it’s not like I couldn’t scrape together $200 on a moment’s notice.
The money was whittled down to one or two entry fees by the time the league playoffs were starting. He who takes money should see to it that he himself does not become a taker.
Rule 2: Facebook/E-Mail is not the extent of your reach
I had a ‘meh’-ntality going in, so it should come as no surprise that any changes to the league were posted on facebook and that was that. If they can’t join a beleaguered social network like 1/7th of the planet, they’re to blame, right? Wrong. The league deserves a commissioner who will notify them before making a decision. It’s much easier to take a poll than to redress angry replies.
Rule 3: Don’t be ignorant of your friends’ incompetence/skill when setting a schedule
Look, prejudice is a terrible thing for race, gender, all that… but a little dash would do you well for setting the schedule. Maybe you aren’t sure about how a friend’s team will shape up, but you know more or less who watches SportsCenter more than once a day and who seriously drafts Josh Freeman in the first round (actually happened; not naming names). Nothing is more irritating than a good team with a creampuff schedule or your team playing a powerhouse five times in a season because the commish couldn’t be bothered. In general, the number of times each team plays the other should be close to even, but the number of weeks and teams throw things off. Err on the side of caution (i.e. strong vs. strong, weak vs. weak). If the league is cool with it, set the schedule after the draft based on projected strength.
Rule 4: All players are not created equal, but Week 2 is too late to fix that.
To this day, we’ll probably never hear the end of how the commissioner changed the rules in his favor, and this was long after I had abdicated the throne. In fact, I suggested the rule change when I was playing the commissioner because rushing touchdowns had a godlike advantage points-wise. I clarified with the league that it was my suggestion and gave my reasoning why; he’s still going to have a pall cast over him for as long as he reigns.
Rule 5: Random draft order is not good enough.
I think we’re on Year 4 of this league and this is the first year a different person has had the first pick. Although the odds of that happening in a 10 team league were .001 (if my math is correct), it happened. Once again, the insatiable mob doesn’t care about the truth. They care about the perception, and the perception was Reverse 1919 Black Sox. We went reverse order of wins this year, he has 6th or 7th pick. All is good for now.
Rule 6: The payout is democratic
Few things are more deflating than hearing your League Championship meant 35 percent of the pot after Best Regular Season Record, Large Second Prize, Comically Large Third Prize and Trophy Fee were paid out. Unless, you know, your commissioner promised to pay you the money and spent it all on Taco Bell and alcohol. That’s probably worse. Vote on 1st, 2nd, 3rd. To Hell with regular season records.
Rule 7: Enable League Approval for trades
When it’s incumbent upon the commissioner to decide whether or not his own trade is fair, your league has problems. (I was not guilty of this. I just hate this.) 4 downvotes out of 8 = trade cancelled.
Rule 8: You Neglect, You’re Out
The League on FX might think every league needs a Taco who doesn’t monitor his team past Week 2. Reality thinks this is a ticket to being ousted.
Rule 9: The guy someone kind of knows is the guy you kind of don’t want in your league.
Continuing the comparison, that unknown person might not be a Rafi, but a fair amount of the league should know who he is. Otherwise, why not just compete against ROBOT1313?
Rule 10: Encourage humiliation.
Here’s what The League nailed: comedy. Anyone can join an office league or, considering the economic state of America, a random league. Your league can be the one they spread lore about. For instance, when we were tubing down the Poudre River, my friend stole my tube and I was forced to wade across sharp and slippery rocks for a quarter-mile. I vowed revenge; he laughed it off. Well, guess whose division rival needed Michael Vick in his comeback year and guess who had Vick and Drew Brees? The revenge was colder than the water when Tube Stealer missed the playoffs.
I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting, but for the most part, leagues can be autonomous. One final rule that should apply to everyone: talking about your fantasy team to people outside the league is like talking about your son’s achievements to non-parents. If we can’t relate, we don’t give a shit.