Commish HQ: First-time Commissioner! Did You Collect All the Money Yet?

By Reginald James
Reginald James

Hey there, first-year fantasy commissioner. Congrats. You’ve had your draft, and the season is about to start. Has everyone paid their league fees?


Generally, after the draft, there shouldn’t really be that much for a fantasy commissioner to do. Collecting dues should not still be on the list. If there are league members who haven’t paid their pool money, you need to collect that money from them as soon as possible. This should be your top priority.


I’m going to assume that you started your league with the intentions of it lasting for more than a couple of years. If so, establishing who you are, and what your expectations are as a commissioner, began the second you started bringing everyone together.


You’re Setting The Example


You’re setting the bar for your league for the years that will follow - right now. This applies not just to league dues, but also to how you will respond to any disputes that may crop up this season, for example. They’re all watching you, first-time commissioner


You’re letting the offenders know that you’re not going to enforce the rules that you’ve set up. They’re suppose to pay, but they haven’t, so one might think down the road, that there are other things they can get away with.


Goose, Meet Gander


If other league members know that their league mates haven’t paid, and they have paid, that sends out the message that the rules don’t apply to everyone. Some will remember this and use this as license to take liberties themselves some time in the future.


Friends and Family


The folks you trust the most will often be the worst offenders. Take a second, and think about who it is that owes you money right now. Are they close to you?


Some family members will ask for a pass to not pay by the deadline - because they’re family. They will then turn around and accuse you of treating them unfairly, and “harassing” them when you keep asking them for the money. Their reasoning will be  that you shouldn’t be doing that - because they’re family.


Again, others who are aware and watching will think the commissioner doesn’t apply the rules fairly to everyone.


Some commissioners will hold out hope the folks they know will eventually do the right thing. However, this isn’t a private issue between a commissioner and cousin Jimmy Joe. There are other people involved in this story. You’re the commissioner of a league, whose members will be affected by the decisions you’re making.


Losers are Less Likely to Pay


Someone who is having a bad fantasy season is less likely to pay. As the weeks pass and they accumulate that stinky win-loss record, the thrill of playing starts to seep out of their body. They begin to see they don’t have a chance to win the league or get a payout for placing. Their obligation and desire to pay (which they’ve already demonstrated as lacking) wanes in direct proportion.


That’s why the sooner you get this box checked, the better.


Will You Make Up The Difference?


Each league member puts in money with the expectations that someone is going to get a nice chunk of change at the end of the season. If the managers who owe money right now, end up not paying, are you able to make up the difference? Why should you have to do that? And, if you can’t, why should the other league members end up getting less in prize money than expected?


I had to cover for a friend who couldn’t pay initially and promised that they would. They never did. No one knew he hadn’t paid, because I covered it. I had to protect the league. That was the first and the last time I allowed this to happen. So yeah, I’ve been there - not going back though, and once this season is over, neither should you.


What Do You Do Now?


You should take steps to get your money as soon as possible. You should remove the offending manager from the league if they don’t cooperate.


• Make a list of replacement managers.


Reach out to each of them and inform them of what’s going on. See if they’d be interested in taking over a team in your league. Be sure that they can step in immediately if you need them. Obviously, this includes paying the fee. I had to say it.


• Contact the offending parties.


Give them a due date for the money to be paid, and tell them you will lock their roster and remove them from the league if they don’t.


If they don’t like it, too bad. If they threaten to leave, cool. Lock them out and replace them. They’re not in the position to be threatening anyone. That’s not the dialogue you should be hearing from them. They just made your job easier. Bye bye.


Worst-case Scenario


For starters, this would involve you not being able to find replacements. Of course, this would also include the delinquents not paying. You can’t very well kick people out without replacing them, so you’ll be stuck.


You have to let the season play out, unless you’d tank the whole league, and I don’t know how many people would choose to do something that drastic. Most would not. If they don’t already know, you’d eventually have to tell the rest of the league about the pool money because there’s going to be less prize money delivered than expected.




I continually encourage commissioners to be transparent in all that they do. However, in a case like this, while I would need to tell the league about the lower payout, I would choose to let everyone play their hearts out and wait until the playoff.


You might choose to do something a bit different, but that would be my call, and here’s why: I need the league to remain stable. I don’t need league dissension to erupt with finger-pointing and blame, derailing gameplay and league participation with people tanking on purpose or quitting late in the season.


If your league has a playoff, and if any of the fee delinquents have a playoff slot, they would be disqualified from the postseason. The teams next in line would take their place in the seedings. This is the moment I would choose to make both announcements, the playoff seedings and the reason why there’s going to be less of a prize payout.


Now, folks can gnash their teeth at each other and it doesn’t matter. You’ve already moved the league forward. There shouldn’t be any disruption.


If the delinquents don’t make the playoff, half your work is already done. They’re no longer part of the equation. You’ve bypassed a lot of potential league drama by not dropping the news beforehand. You’ll simply inform the league why there’s a lesser payout.


Next Year - No Pay, No Play


Suffice to say, you won’t invite the fantasy debtors back. Next year, the moment you announce the league draft date (which should be months ahead of time) you should also announce a deadline for the pool money. Along with that info, should come the announcement that if they don’t pay, their pool money, they don’t play They will be replaced. Period. No exceptions. Your dues deadline should be at least a week before the draft, which will give you enough time to find replacements if you need it.


Hopefully, you can successfully take care of this current issue, and the worst-case scenario doesn’t play out. Good luck.



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