Commish HQ: Create Next Season's To-Do List Now

By Reginald James
Reginald James

Hey first-time commissioner, were you surprised at how much work it actually takes to keep a league running smoothly and to keep league members happy? Maybe you had a smooth first year. That’s great, I hope you did. Maybe instead, you’re in the group that ran into issues, whether it was having a hard time collecting money, or you had to deal with some rogue manager behaving badly. In any case, now is the time to make notes while the emotions are still running hot and the memories are fresh. I am recommending you take a moment to collect any thoughts you have on the season and record them in one place.


Going through this little exercise will help prevent you from repeating the same mistakes, and perhaps keep you from making new ones. The longevity of your league depends on how well you’re able to adapt to surprises and change, how well you are at planning ahead, and how resolute you are when it comes to executing the plans you have laid out for yourself and your league. Let’s get started.


Survey says!


We’re going to offer up some questions shortly that you should ask yourself. Answer each question as honestly as possible. This isn’t the moment to self-edit or censor anything that you are passionate about, or something that really caused you some aggravation during the season. Just let it flow


If you’re not much of a writer, and just the thought of this task already feels too much for you to do, then create a ranking system where you will rank each answer or rank the moment, or issue. For example, for things that went wrong you can create a scale from 1 – 5, where 1 = meh, and 5 = primal-scream mode. If you forgot to collect league dues from a couple of people, you would simply note that, and slap it with a 4 or 5 because you ended up coughing up the money yourself to cover, for instance. For good results, you’ll create a similar scale, where 5 would equate to being “the best commissioner move ever.” You get the idea. You totally want to give yourself a chance to pat yourself on the back. So be sure to list all the things you believe went well during the season.


Riddle Me This …


The questions you can ask yourself can be pretty much limitless. Here are some examples:


• Did I do a good job this year?

• What went wrong?

• What went well? Really well?

• Was I ever the cause of a league issue?

• How well did I come up with a solution?

• Am I equipped or knowledgable enough now to not repeat the same mistake?

• Did I communicate well with the league members?

• Did I meddle too much in business that didn’t involve me?

• Did everyone pay their dues on time? Why? Can you take credit?

• Did I have fun?

• Did league members enjoy themselves?

• Can I make the league better? More competitive?

• Do I like running a league?


Riddle Me That


When you’re done, put your notes away, and then some time in the near future, but before the next season begins, you should pull the notes out and initiate your own league assessment and review. The whole idea, is to give yourself the opportunity to be proactive, but to also give yourself the gift of a break.


For me, replenishing my replacement list of potential league members is at the very top of the list of things I need to address. I had to replace someone this year, and my list was a very short one to begin with. Suffice to say, two out of the three people on that list declined to join. The last candidate, however did join, so my list now has a grand total of zero people. I’ve got work to do.


I usually take notes during the season more so than at the end of the season. I write down any ideas that I come across that I find interesting. Around mid-season this year, I started entertaining the idea of adding a Team Quarterback setup for my league. I wrote the idea down, along with some pro and con thoughts that I had at the moment. I’m probably not going to do it, but it’s still on the list right now. All my thoughts and ideas that developed over the season are there. I do this every year. Sometimes, if I feel really strongly about a rule proposal or change, I’ll go ahead and write the language down while I’m hyped up about it. Months later, the message to the league is almost already written, because I will have already done the bulk of the work when I was feeling the most passionate about it and working with the most clarity.


I started this piece by addressing first-time commissioners, but everything that I’ve discussed pertains to veteran commissioners too. I’ve mentioned this in past articles, but I feel this can never be said enough: Don’t treat the league like your personal vanity project. For example, be careful of making off-season changes to leagues rules – just because you can. One more thing: make a pact with yourself that whatever choices you make, or whatever plans you plot, make sure you do your best to follow through with them if you're really excited about them. Enjoy the off-season.


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