I’ve done the Top Gun thing already because while you might be a good Fantasy commissioner, I’m here to make you an even greater Fantasy commissioner.
My colleague Josh Morgan did a great job with his seven tips that will make you a great fantasy commissioner last year. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. If you’re new to being a commissioner and/or looking for the basic how-to on being a great Fantasy commissioner, go read that first. Consider this article the bonus compendium to that piece. I want to make you an even greater Fantasy commissioner.
Because let’s be honest, mistakes were made. The biggest is that we included a picture of Roger Goodell. That’s not exactly the model you should follow. At best let’s say Goodell is a competent commissioner who serves his managers if not his underlings well. So instead of Goodell, we included a picture Pete Rozelle because he was not just a competent commissioner but took the NFL to new heights.
You should aspire to not just be a strong commissioner but a HOF-worthy one.
I know it’s not easy. Fellow owners can be a pain. Furthermore, leagues come in all shapes and sizes. Yet becoming a greater fantasy commissioner it is not an unscalable height. And we will start with a simple omission.
Seven Additional Tips to Make you a Greater Fantasy Commissioner
1. Have a Trophy
I asked Josh if there was something he regretted not listing in his article and the first thing he said was “get a trophy.” I couldn’t agree more.
And no, you don’t have to pay tribute to it like the guys from “The League” do with their Shiva trophy.
But the beauty of a trophy is you can make it whatever your personal tastes, league character, and budget allow. Let’s just say I’ve seen some weird trophies over the years, but have fun with it. I know one league that has become like a Stanley Cup where it just keeps getting bigger and bigger as they add new champion’s names every year. And that same league decided the winner could add a phrase beneath their name and team name. I probably can’t reprint any of them here, but let’s just say there are quite a few inappropriate phrases, often involving other league owners.
A trophy, however, is just one part of keeping your league history alive.
2. Make Your League Historical
I don’t necessarily mean this in a “radical bro” kind of way. I mean keep a documented history of your league. A number of different sites will keep a history for you year after year if you renew with them. And this even includes some of the free sites out there. It is worth mentioning though that some of the pay sites will provide much more detailed documentation than some of the free ones.
Few things are more enjoyable than when a commissioner shoots down a blow-hard owner who thinks he’s on a “record-setting pace” by simply saying, “Might want to look back at the 2014 season before you say more….”
But it’s not just keeping a recorded history from year to year. Provide a written recap every week of what happened in that week’s league’s games. You can be as creative as you want. I’ve seen some weekly updates that would make Rupert Murdoch blush. Or even a simple one line Twitter-length summary can be fun–“It took nine weeks, but no more undefeated teams”.
We can’t all be Pulitzer-winning writers. So if writing is not your thing, perhaps assign each owner a week to do the recap. It might be fun just to see how different owners handle the assignment.
Speaking of a delegation of responsibility, don’t be afraid to share your power.
3. Nothing Wrong With Division of Power
One of the best things I like about my primary league is we actually have a triumvirate of commissioners. It’s a win-win situation for everyone and in doing so makes each of the commissioners a greater fantasy commissioner.
I’ll simplify our roles for you. One commissioner is responsible for finances. Another is responsible for updating and sending out rosters/keepers. Another is the keeper of the rules, auctioneer, and responsible for keeping the draft running smoothly. As one of the three commissioners, I can tell you that it definitely feels less burdensome. Split up your commissioner responsibilities and power any way you see fit.
I will add that one commissioner often consults the other two to make sure math is right, all emails are correct, and nothing was missed. A triumvirate provides a great fail safe.
Additionally, when rule disputes pop up, they are decided by that 3-man panel of commissioners, which gives it less of a Sheriff Goodell feel and more of a Supreme Court feel. And should a questionable trade or action arise that includes one or more of the commissioners, they simply recuse themselves from the decision. Simply put, it works.
Don’t misunderstand, none us of are a pushover, which brings up something else I want to stress.
4) Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Hard-Ass
I think my favorite performances from Top Gun is James Tolkan’s portrayal of Stinger.
What I like about it is you get the impression he cares about those on his ship but he wants to make his men better and will do that by whatever means necessary. He’s a lot more Captain Miller and less Captain Phasma. Stinger is fair, but he doesn’t feel the need to be warm and fuzzy. He’s punished his fighter pilots for getting out of line, and all know he will do so again.
Take the same attitude with your league.
Sometimes as commissioner, you’re going to have to do things you don’t like. But just like how Stinger doesn’t want to send Maverick and Goose to Miramar, he has to do so. And sometimes your best friends are going to get out of line. It is your job to keep them in line. Be fair, but don’t be afraid to do what is best for everyone. Suppose an owner makes an illegal pick-up or fields an illegal line-up and your constitution requires punitive action? Then take that punitive action.
I mentioned earlier a three-man commissioner-ship and one good thing is you don’t have to enact a decision by yourself. Just another reason to do so. Of course, there is nothing like a great constitution on which to rely.
5) Like The Constitution, Its A Constant Work In Progress
What makes our country’s Constitution so great is that it is constantly a work in progress. It’s gone through easily over a dozen changes.
So first off, if your league doesn’t have a Constitution, draft one. It doesn’t need to be the Magna Carta. I would make it longer than a haiku, but half a dozen lines or so will do. One simple way to condense a lot of your rules is a simple line: “If in doubt, the selected site will work it out”. This means you don’t have to include your entire scoring system in your Constitution, just a simple “see the site for the scoring system”. But something should be drawn up, especially one that addresses any of the disputes your league may have had over the years. It’s a lot easier to hand down a commissioner ruling when it’s already been documented.
Because you may have an exemplary commissioner and a top-notch league. Yet there’s always gonna be something that someone wants to change. It might be something as simple as raising the pot payout by 5%. It might be something as trivial as limiting the number of times a team can change their team name.
Or sometimes a change becomes necessary. Perhaps the technology changes or a new hosting site hits the market. The previous are all good changes, but sometimes it can be something tragic like a fellow owner passing away. I’ve been there and it’s a tricky situation. Just realize that there is always something that causes a wrinkle. A greater fantasy commissioner knows that a league should always be improving. And sometimes a dramatic change might be necessary. Of course other times, something different can be simple fun.
6) Don’t Be Afraid To Borrow From That “Other Football”
Embed from Getty Images
One of the biggest issues a commissioner faces every year is teams/owners that are stick-a-fork-in-them done. They understandably do not care anymore. One of the coolest solutions I’ve ever heard about league structure was to borrow from the English Premier League and to have “relegation”. For example, not a lot of people like to have a 20-team league. However, what if you had a 12-team league and an eight-team “minor league”?
Each year, the bottom four teams from the 12-team league are “relegated” or moved down to the secondary league while the top four teams from the 8-team league move up. Both leagues would have the same scoring and constitution, but the one difference can be bigger payouts at the 12 team league. Don’t you think teams will be scrambling not to be “relegated” at the end of the season? Try it and find out.
Which of course brings us to our last suggestion on how to be a greater fantasy commissioner.
7) Keep Owner Continuity, But Keep Evolving the League
The best leagues are the ones that have the same owners year after year after year. This is not specific, I’m aware, but whatever you can do to keep owner continuity, do it. And sometimes that means evolving. Sometimes it doesn’t. A great fantasy commissioner supports a great league, and a great league helps support a great fantasy commissioner.
We can’t point to one thing to ensure success. And it’s a road, not an endpoint. However, when you are on your way to becoming a greater fantasy commissioner, you’ll know it.
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