The following piece, entitled Six Simple Steps to Becoming an Effective League Commissioner, has moments of light sarcasm, but nothing crude enough to discourage fantasy gurus from accepting the toughest, most thankless job they’ll ever love.
Just like the Peace Corps.
1. Always be accessible, courteous, judicious and principled
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If you glean anything from this particular entry, let it be one of the four adjectives from above.
Before the first game is played or the initial lineup is set, all owners should have access to your preferred personal email or cell number and must be encouraged to voice their concerns about league matters, day or night (within reason, of course).
And when contacted, the commissioner must be the calming influence, maintaining loyalty to the promise of fairness while promoting the short- and long-term welfare of the league.
In other words, don’t be that guy (or gal) who converts one gaffe into a series of misfortunes. If you make a mistake conducting the draft (I nearly ruined the SI.com & Friends draft in 2009), overseeing trades or monitoring the blind-bidding auction system for free agents, own up to it and proceed from there.
As long as you have done everything in your power to rectify the error — or at least find a workable solution — then so be it.
Simple enough, huh?
2. Don’t takes sides when mediating a dispute
This one is pure common sense, but warrants mention anyway. If Owner A trades Robinson Cano to Owner B for Brandon Phillips, Mike Moustakas and Jeff Samardzija, and the other owners demand a retraction, simply investigate the matter from all sides before making a decision.
In non-keeper leagues, the deal may have no substance; in keeper leagues, it may actually be a bargain for Owner A, over time. But you’ll never know until gathering perspectives of intent from both parties, trying to understand their rationale for executing the trade.
The fail-safe method for trade disputes is simple: Invoke a veto system where at least 50 percent of the owners have a 24- to 48-hour period to fairly (and anonymously) nix the deal. Just make sure the owners understand the matter will be closed after the veto period ends.
3. Never make your own vote public during the trade-veto period
Even if you just voted for the ultimate win-win trade or the most unbalanced swap since the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Lou Brock from the Cubs in 1964 (for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz), it serves no purpose to discuss your personal vote with the owners. Let others cast their votes, without clouding other minds with pro/con arguments focusing on the trade.
And when your own team gets involved in a tentative trade, for the love of former Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia … don’t utter a word about it until the veto window has closed.
Even then, no gloating or whining.
4. Avoid public comments on official trades that don’t involve your team
I run one particular league, solely comprised of owners who follow me on Twitter or support The Fantasy Fox blog. And without fail, whenever the first trade becomes official, someone will solicit my opinion of the deal, prompting this default response:
As long as the trade’s fair, I couldn’t care less who wins.
Four years ago, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I flogged a fellow owner about a trade in a league. Since we weren’t friends or work acquaintances, he had no prior knowledge of my demented sense of humor and treated the comments with the utmost seriousness.
He then penned a two-page letter to the commissioner (me—gulp!), saying that he had been humiliated by the experience (getting attention in my Sports Illustrated blog at the time).
Upon reading the letter, I was embarrassed and humiliated, knowing I had violated the true spirit of Rule No. 1. (But never again.)
5. Publicly note all scoring or rules changes that occur before/after the draft
The quickest way to lose the trust and respect of your fellow owners — blog floggings aside — is to change the league scoring rules after the draft, without their consent and/or without making the changes public.
This is one of the most unconscionable acts of a commissioner, an absolute no-no.
6. If you’re not fully prepared to put the league’s welfare above your own interests, do not accept the job as commissioner
There is no glory to being a fantasy commissioner.
No pay. No pats on the back. No league meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. No pre-Super Bowl parties or media summit two days before the championship game.
It also won’t help you win a championship (unless you cheat, of course). It’s just a simple, yet complicated labor of love for forward-thinking men and women who appreciate the innate beauty of a smoothly operated league — and one that offers a scintillating playoff or thrilling pennant chase at season’s end.
So, you’d have that going for you … which is nice.