Ask The Commish: Managers Don't Want to Play Championship!

By Reginald James
Reginald James

Let’s consider the following question:


"Asking other commissioners. 1st and 2nd want to split the pot instead of playing their matchup. What would you say as a commish?"


My Twitter response:



"They can go buy themselves a pony if they like, but they need to play the game. Right now, no one foresees another situation where players will decide to unilaterally not follow the rules, so it's all "sure" and "why not?" but this opens the door 4 something else in future."



I’m going to take the opportunity to expand on this a bit further.


This was not a question that was sent to me, but rather it was posted on Twitter. The responses weren’t unanimous. Folks lined up on both sides of the question. On one side, people didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Most of these folks felt that what the two parties were agreeing to didn’t affect the other members of the league, so why not? Some of the same people, also pointed out it was “their money” so the two managers could do what they wanted with it, that the commissioner couldn’t do anything about it so what difference would it make.


Then, there were the people, like myself, who said what they did with their winnings after the final game was up to them, but they still needed to play the game. I also believe that the commissioner should pay them according to their finish. Then, the two could do what they want with the money, pool it, or burn it, for all I would care.


There’s one more bit of information that the person didn’t provide in the original post: the matchup would determine the order for that league’s rookie draft. That’s yet another reason not to simply disregard the results of the game itself. I think some people originally missed that part of the story. If you’re familiar with Twitter, you know a lot of responses are churned out by people before they eventually come across an additional post by the original poster, that will often shed new light, adding context, to what they originally stated.


The discerning factor for the prevailing attitude surrounding a lot of fantasy league issues often hinges on whether money is at stake and the league is considered competitive, versus a “friends and family” league that’s played just for fun. However, there are a lot of friends and family leagues that play for money, and are also considered competitive. One size hardly fits all. What type of league is this one? I don’t know. The dynamics in a league changes as soon as you add the opportunity to win money. These two players are opting not to play at all, which to me doesn’t seem very competitive in nature. It appears that they care more about the money that’s waiting for them both. After managing a roster trying to come up with the best starting lineup each week, after navigating bye weeks and injuries, and after dealing with all the other competitive hurdles a manager faces during the whole season, why wouldn’t one want to finish if they made it to the finals? Only those two know the answer this question. The self-professed competitive types, or those who identified themselves as being in what they described as competitive leagues, were more likely to have said that both players needed to play the game. Some commissioners also said, they wouldn’t declare a champion for that season if the two went ahead with their plan. There would be no co-champions. The final result would still have to be used for draft purposes, but there would be no champion recorded for that year.


My biggest problem with this whole scenario is that they’re disregarding what everyone else, including them, has done up to this point: played weekly head-to-head games acquiring a win-loss record. The final win-loss records not only represent who the champion is for the league, but also affects the rookie draft. It’s not up to them to unilaterally change the structure of the league and how it’s set up. I think that’s what a lot of people are missing. They need to fully adhere to the rules. Eventually, there’s going to be a “champion” of record determined by the platform, whether the title is actively earned by either player, or whether the title is strictly a result of a computation of points that the two players seem to want to willfully disregarded themselves.


What’s stopping the two players from each installing a “dummy lineup” in the championship that as a result isn't competitive in any way, but is basically a version "going through the motions"? Some of the people who answered, said they’ve done that in the past, when they too, decided to pool their winnings with another. The reality is, there’s nothing stopping them from doing that, but I personally wouldn’t have someone in my league who would pull that stunt. That move would get them booted. I wouldn’t run a league where two people decided that they didn’t care who the champion was going to be. I wouldn’t consider them co-champions either. How could they if they didn’t bother to play the game? That doesn’t make any sense. How could a commissioner legitimately record a champion when the parties involved didn't care about the title itself, but instead, cared more about how much money they were getting? If other commissioners are cool with that way of thinking, then I think that’s great if that works for them. There’s all kinds of leagues, with so many types of rules and scoring setups. There’s a place for everyone. There’s no excuse for someone to be part of a league they’re not happy being in. In turn, commissioners should be comfortable applying the rules they've established for their leagues, and find the managers who are cool rolling with however how high (or low) they've set the bar.


When it comes to the money, is it really their money if they didn’t win it? I’m being a bit facetious, but seriously, do you really think it says in the rules, or that everyone has agreed, that the championship no longer has to be played? That, the pool money of the top two finishers automatically gets combined? Of course, not. If they agreed to pool it, then they shouldn’t have a problem sticking to their agreement even if the commissioner paid them separately. As a commissioner, I would stick to what I’m supposed to do, which is to pay each finisher an amount that’s already been agreed upon. Even if I know they’re going to pool the money, I would not break the protocol established for the role that I play in the league. As soon as a commissioner breaks from what is expected of them, no matter for how innocuous of a reason it may be, they open the door to league managers (who are totally paying attention to what their commissioner is doing) one day coming up with some other rule or protocol they’ll choose not to follow as well. That’s what I meant by:


“Right now, no one foresees another situation where players will decide to unilaterally not follow the rules, so it's all "sure" and "why not?" but this opens the door 4 something else in future”


This particular moment, for this particular league, where the topic at hand doesn’t appear to be that tumultuous of an event to some observers, could very well be setting the stage for the future, for something that can actually upset, or will disrupt the harmony of the league. As a commissioner, you have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. You do not want to set a precedent that you can’t honor down the road. You can’t make devil-may-care exceptions for anyone, especially publicly. You can’t work in such a fashion, and somehow not expect that some time in the future, someone else in the league is going want the preferential treatment or allowances they perceived  you gave to someone else. That’s why it’s important to have the two players respectfully and competitively play the season out like they - and anyone else in their position - are expected to do. The commissioner then pays them accordingly, like they are expected to do. Then, the season will be over. What the two league managers do after that, whether they pool the money, marry each other, don’t pool the money, or jump in a lake, becomes irrelevant to the commissioner and the rest of the league. What they then decide to do is up to them, and is no one else’s business, but not before that.




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