Commish HQ: Be Good To Your Commissioner

By Reginald James
Reginald James

One of the most worn out phrases in fantasy football is the tried and true, “Being a fantasy commissioner is a thankless job.” I’ll see this repeated over and over again on social media, along with other complaints like how some commissioners actually hate running leagues. I often wonder why they choose to run a league if they hate it so much. As a fantasy advice columnist for fantasy commissioners, I know firsthand that sometimes commissioners can be responsible for their own misfortune or grievance. For the very same reason, I also know that in other cases, it’s league members who are responsible for creating an unhappy environment not only for their commissioner, but for the other league members as well. With this in mind, we’re going to discuss how league managers can do their part to help make a commissioner's job easier, instead of often being the source of their commissioner’s fantasy angst.


Respect League Rules


We all understand that rules are created to provide structure and guidelines to follow for league members. Turns out, they also happen to be the best friend of the commissioner. It’s the league rules that allow the commissioner to have the final say on most matters. This means that as a league member, you should respect their decisions, even if you don't agree with them. If the commissioner applies a league rule to settle a dispute, accept it without complaining for the next three weeks. It’s over. The rules have spoken. The commissioner was just the facilitator, so don’t bellyache incessantly and make everyone miserable.


Know the Rules


Commissioners should always send the current rules to the whole league at the beginning of each season. If the commissioner sends you the rules, or makes them available online - read and familiarize yourself with them. This can help reduce the likelihood of unnecessary disputes and questions. Have you ever emailed or texted your commissioner a question that could’ve easily been answered by simply reading the rules? Going over the rules first to find an answer for yourself seems like an obvious thing to do, but I hear from enough commissioners to know that more folks should be doing that.


While there are so many folks out there who can’t resist the temptation to take advantage of a vaguely written rule, I suggest you don’t be that person who finds themselves saying, “Well, there’s nothing in the rules that says I can’t do it!”  Ponder this: instead of looking to exploit a loophole in the rules that you’ve discovered, maybe point it out to your commissioner instead. If you notice that a rule can be clarified, or written better, alert your commissioner, so they can make the improvement. Help them out. Raise the bar for everyone.


Be a Positive Participant


The best thing you can do as a league member is whenever you’re engaged in league business, in any way, try to keep the league environment positive and enjoyable for all members.


Trash talk: If you’re into trash talk, and no one else in your league is into it, then you’re out of luck. Don’t push the issue, and try to goad others into doing it. There are some leagues where trash talk is encouraged and celebrated. However, sometimes trash talk can get out of hand. When this happens, the involved parties need to be responsible and get things settled on their own. Don’t be the one whose message board beefs, escalate to the point where the commissioner feels they have to intervene. Commissioners don’t want to deal with that nonsense. I’ve heard from commissioners who have had to shut their message board down because a couple of bad apples couldn’t act right. Unfortunately, actions like this affects the whole league, not just the knuckleheads involved.


Language: For the record, this is not my personal take against “bad words.” I don’t believe in such, but that’s another discussion for another day. However, cursing is similar to trash talk. Read the room. Are you in a league where it is accepted, and everyone is on the same page in that regard? Fantastic. If, however, you are the odd one out, and temporary restraint is a foreign concept to you, then maybe it’d be best to find another league. If it’s really important to you to express yourself in that way, then you need to find likeminded league mates who are comfortable interacting in the same way. Don’t force the commissioner to have to constantly ask you to watch your language. Don’t choose to be an interminable pain in the ass, refusing because you’re stubbornly bent on exercising your “freedom.”


Excel at Managing Your Team


Stay active and engaged with managing your team, even if the season isn’t working out the way you hoped. It may be hard for some of you, but try to apply the same attention and energy to your roster no matter what. Inactive teams can quickly disrupt the league's competitive balance. Don’t be the league mate who gives your opponents Weeks 11 - 13, an easy pass because you’ve given up, yet every prior opponent got your best roster lineup.


• Stay on top of bye weeks.


Traveling: You’re responsible for your roster. If you’re traveling, plan ahead. For example, if you know you’re going to be without WiFi, and you know you’re going to need help with roster management, let your commissioner know in advance. Skip asking your commissioner for a favor because of poor planning on your part. For instance, don’t ask your commissioner to make an exception and execute a roster move you "woulda, coulda, shoulda" made, after a game has been played just because you’re unsatisfied with the results.


Last-minute inactive misses also fall into this category. If you know there’s a chance a player might sit, and you think you might not be able to access your roster to make a quick pre-game swap, either yank the player, or make a plan for someone to assist you - before the game starts. Don’t go moan to the commissioner after the fact, that you started an inactive player, and ask them to retroactively replace that player for another. There are some commissioners who will help out in that way for all their league members. I would argue these are commissioners who run leagues where money isn’t at stake. In other words, what I would call a casual league. In any case, challenge yourself to avoid asking for favors that can then be exploited by others in the future. Your league mates may come asking for their “exception” too, because you got yours. Let’s keep commissioners out of these tight spots.


Communicate with Your Commissioner:


Communicate directly with your commissioner. Try not to be the league member who has so much to say to everyone else (complaints or otherwise), but somehow misses talking to the person who actually might be able to do something. You know those types. We all know those types. Be different. Help your commissioner, help you (and the league). If you have suggestions, questions or concerns, address them with your commissioner respectfully and constructively, in a timely manner. Also, don’t ignore any communications that the commissioner sends. If your commissioner takes the time to construct an email, you can surely take a moment to read it.


Adhere to all League Deadlines


Deadlines matter. Hopefully you have a commissioner who is good at communicating what those are, and who gives all league members time to plan and respond.


Pay your dues on time: If your league has an entry fee, make sure to pay it before the deadline. Late payments can cause problems for the commissioner who may need to cover expenses upfront. Having to chase people down for money is one of the complaints I hear the most from commissioners. Don’t put your commissioner in that situation. They really hate it.


Turn your keepers in on time: The platform your league uses may require your commissioner to adjust the draft order by inserting each selection into the appropriate round - manually. This takes time to do. Hopefully, they chose a deadline that gives them enough time to do what they need to do. Don’t squander that time by having them wait on you. Plus, if you don’t meet the deadline, and there’s a penalty on the rulebooks, own it. Don’t ask your commissioner to make an exception for you. You had the same time as everyone else to make a decision and pass on your choices to the commissioner.


If there’s something up for a vote, vote - by the deadline. Don’t start texting the commissioner after the deadline, asking if you can still vote. Also, don’t be the person who Iikes to complain about the results of a league vote, but it turns out that you didn’t even vote in the first place. C’mon, no one want to hear any of that, especially your commissioner.


What’s the Deal?


If you are a reliable and active league member, the positive residual affect can expand to the whole league. Everyone should have a vested interest in keeping the league together. If managers choose to accept the responsibility, to help their commissioner maintain a positive and enjoyable league experience for everyone (not just for themselves), then the job of the commissioner becomes a cakewalk. Do your part, and relieve your commissioner of the unnecessary things they commonly have to deal with. Sure, they’re the league commissioner, but they’re a player too. Let’s try to give them a chance to enjoy that side of fantasy football too.





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