Commish HQ: Are You Prepared to Replace a League Member?

By Reginald James
Reginald James

Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, this went down:


A newbie in our work league decided that they didn’t want to play anymore. They weren’t doing well, and they weren’t having fun like they thought they would, according to them. I tried to convince them to stay, and even tried to give them tips on how to make their team better. Their team isn’t that bad, but that’s beside the point because they’re not even trying anymore which became clear when they didn’t manage around this past bye week. They asked me to take over the team, but not to tell anyone because they’d be embarrassed about giving up. Then don’t give up? That was unacceptable to me so I took over her team, but I also messaged the entire league explaining what happened. She didn’t like that, but she’s not in the league anymore so it doesn’t really matter what they think, haha! Anyway, I was not going make it appear that I was colluding with this person. You talk about being transparent all the time, so I knew I wasn’t going to be doing myself any favors if I tried to find a replacement while secretly managing the team. I wasn’t going to get stuck with their team. Most of us work remotely now, including me, so it was hard to find someone because I couldn’t just walk down the hall, or harass people in the break room, haha! I really wanted to make this happen before the next weekend of games. Because the whole league knew what was going on, a lot of the owners reached out to other people at work for me, and we got someone else. I even had to decide between three people. It was a real team effort!


Just wanted you to know, if this happened in the past before I started reading your articles, I probably would’ve listened to her just to keep the peace. That probably would’ve made more sense to a younger version of me. Like that would’ve been the easier way out? This would’ve resulted in more work for me, and even though I would’ve been doing the “right” thing, it probably wouldn’t have looked that way if her “secret” got out. I actually like running this league and I wasn’t going to let them ruin it for me. I didn’t have a replacement list like you’ve talked about, but I will be following your advice on that for sure in the off season. Hopefully, I won’t have to deal with someone just bailing on us like that again, but I plan to be ready for it if it happens. Deciding to tell the league instead, was the most important thing that made this whole thing work. I actually got help. I figured it might be nice that you heard a success story from a reader. I’m not sure how many of those you get but I just wanted to share and say thanks anyway. Thanks!


Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talking about. Congratulations on your efforts. It’s true, I rarely get just a story (that’s not asking for straight advice) from someone that doesn’t involve either them trying to get me to justify some shady stuff they’ve already done as a commissioner, or trying to get my take on some shady stuff they’re about to do. So yes, I’m totally sharing your story because I think others need to hear it too. I’m going to take the opportunity to use your story as a launching point to talk about how to deal with someone leaving the league during the season. So a big thank you to you, too!.


Say It Isn’t So


Ok dear commissioners, let’s say someone tells you they want to take their toys and go home. No matter the reason, they want to leave the league. Or, maybe you have to replace someone for disciplinary reasons. Whatever the scenario, if you need to take action to replace a league member once the season has started, you’re going to need to act quickly. We’re going to talk about steps you can take to make sure you’re as ready as possible. The keys to success:


• Be ready to act

• Maintain full transparency

• Provide for a smooth transition


Everytime You Go Away


Some commissioners may choose to make the process a solitary venture when it comes to replacing a league member. However, the letter writer above, got help from the members of their league. Whatever you choose, consider having written rules in place that explain the procedure in detail. For instance, how will the new member be chosen? Will only you, the commissioner, decide who the new member will be? Will the departing manager get to suggest or find their own replacement? Will the final decision for selecting a new member be made by a majority vote? Whether they’re taking part in the replacement process or not, everyone will already know the methods that you will use to replace the old manager. In other words, there will be no surprises: no one can say they “didn’t know.” Having a blueprint to follow, and sticking to the established rules that’s been set will make the task much easier. In lieu of a written guide, the alternative would be to make sure to openly communicate with the league what your intentions are, and maybe providing periodic updates if the search gets drawn out. This style choice will probably work best in more mature leagues. Yup, we’re talking being transparent in your actions.


On the List


The writer mentioned me talking about a replacement list in prior articles. We’re simply talking about a compilation of names, that serves as a replacement or recruitment list that’s ready to go, if the moment arises that a commissioner needs to find someone new. It doesn’t matter whether you have to do it in the off season, or during the season like in the story above. The list will save you time. You can move quickly. Again, you have to decide if you are going to stick to using a list of people you've recruited and vetted on your own, or if you will encourage the league to assist you. It’s a style choice. I personally work on my own in this area, and only reach out to certain league mates if I run into difficulty. However, I’m sure there are some commissioners who would welcome the help of others, even the whole league, in this process. Decide what works best with your personality and social skills.


Your chosen procedure can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can reach out to people you know personally, who you work with, or people you just happen meet when you go out. Your way of vetting candidates, for example, may be low key. You could however, make your efforts more procedural and go as far as providing an application (yikes!) and carrying out an interview process. Let's say for example, you decide to involve the whole league. You might consider having the interviews take place during a league party. There are a lot of leagues looking for any reason to have a party. I would say this could qualify as one of the better ones - pizza, wings, beer, and interviews! While informally hanging out in a fun, and social setting, league members get to consider factors such as: a candidate’s experience, their commitment to playing even if their team isn’t doing well (sound familiar?), and their knowledge of the sport or game. This is also the perfect way to vet more than one person at the same time. It could turn out to be pretty darn efficient, resulting in a good-looking standby list when it’s all over.


When it comes to final approval, I’ve already posed some questions above to consider. Additionally, does the commissioner get final approval because they are the ones who were responsible for selecting the new member? Does the commissioner get final approval even if the league helped in the process? The answers to these questions will obviously depend largely on the actual process that took place. However, the makeup of the league could also dictate how things get set up. For example, the league could be new, the league could be a work league, or the league could be run by a trusted commissioner with a group of veterans who have all been together for a long time. I’m not going to make any assumptions that there’s an obvious default mode to this. Just tossing out another reminder: this should all be in writing. Forgive me for repeatedly banging this drum, but I can’t stress this enough.


Promise Ain’t Enough


The basis for a smooth transition is only as good as the plan that guides it. It’s pretty much a given that via the platform, a commissioner has the tools to freeze a league member’s roster, preventing them from any further participation. However, there are other things you might want to keep in mind like:


• Does the departing member get their money back?

• Are there any written rules in place that determine whether they get all, or only a partial amount back?

• Have they fulfilled all their financial obligations to the league?

• Will the incoming member get a pool fee discount if they enter mid-season, or do they pay the same amount as everyone else?

• Do you cover their pool fee?

• Is the new manager up to speed with all the relevant information concerning the rules and the league platform?


Take a moment to make sure that the manager swap doesn't create any changes to the league schedule, or by chance, to a standing rule. For example, some leagues have a rivalry week, so adjustments might need to be made to address that.


Out of Touch


Sooner or later we commissioners all have to deal with replacing league members. Whether someone leaves, dies, or gets kicked out, it’s an event that’s bound to happen. Not everyone has the luxury of having an endless amount of options. All of our work, school, and social lives are different. Those specific aspects of our lives - the sources that will provide our league mates - can and will change from time to time. I talk a lot about being prepared and planning well when it comes to running a fantasy league. This especially applies to the topic at hand. Because we know it’s an event more likely to happen than not, it’s important to be ready to handle restructuring your league membership in the most fair and efficient way that we can come up with, in an effort to maintain the overall integrity and competitiveness of our leagues.






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