Commish HQ: Three Questions for Commissioners

By Reginald James
Reginald James

The regular season for fantasy football has come to an end. I hope my fellow commissioners had a good season both as a player and as a league commissioner. As we close the door on this season, I’d like to ask three questions for you to consider as you look forward to the next fantasy season.


Were you a good commissioner?


It’s an easy question to ask. I would like to think it’s an easy question to answer, although some folks do have a skewed sense of self. There very well may be someone out there who has done a horrible job, and they’re reading this thinking they were simply fabulous. This question is for everyone - except those people. We have to let them be, I guess.


All kidding aside, if you think that you were a good commissioner this year, why do you feel that way? If you had to list three attributes that makes a good fantasy commissioner, what would those three things be, and, would you pass the muster with your own criteria?


I think a good fantasy commissioner should have the following three attributes:


• great communication skills

• great organizational skills

• a strong sense of self, but at the same time someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously


Communication skills: This is actually a good trait to have in general.  The better you are at getting your point across, in the simplest and the most digestible way, the better you’ll be at getting what you want and need, no matter the area we’re talking about. Teachers, coaches, parents, friends, office managers, and fantasy commissioners who have this skill tend to provide good environments for anyone who has to deal with them.


You can’t run a league in isolation. You may be able to manage every aspect of your league using your electronic device of choice in a room all by yourself, but you still have to eventually communicate with the members of your league. You have to send emails, texts, or both. You may have to call your league mates on the phone. You may be in a league where you run a live draft, and have to stand up in front of everyone and get it done.


Not everyone is good at communicating with other people. Some league commissioners might really have a strong desire to run a league. However, they might not be so keen to be the one in charge when it comes to sending an email to the league to discuss a rule change, for example. Likewise, having to deal with a dispute among league members can escalate ones discomfort level considerably.


Organizational skills: If you’re good at planning, and even better at planning ahead, then your life as a commissioner should run much more smoothly. Generally, most of the organizational work done by a commissioner, happens during the preseason.


However, the more moving parts a league has, the more a commissioner will be tasked to tend to the big picture. For example, a league with weekly payouts calls for a commissioner to tend to those payments each week. It’s on the commissioner to make that happen.


Sense of self: Megalomaniacs and narcissists make horrible fantasy commissioners. I chose having a strong sense of self as one of my choices because people who do tend to be better leaders. They can take on a task, or help run a project, but the experience doesn’t become about them. The success of the league is more important to a good commissioner, than being able to publicly take credit for a well-run league.


I have read many letters and answered many questions, and I can tell you, the worst fantasy commissioners are the ones who are always looking for something to “commish.” They are the ones who make everything that goes on in the league about them. They can’t simply run a league, they need admiration from their league mates for doing so. They may even subconsciously  create league drama themselves in order to wield the power that they feel they have as commissioner.



Did your league members enjoy themselves?


If you’re in a league where members spend a lot of time together, were you able to witness people just having a good time whenever league business came up? Did anyone speak to you personally and tell you that they had a good time this year? Did anyone thank you for running the league?


This isn’t really that deep. You should know if people had a good time playing in your league. It is possible that folks just played the season our and didn’t say anything at all to you. It’s more likely however, that if someone had a beef with how you ran the league, you’d know about it.  If by chance, you’re not sure if your league was a cool activity for your league mates the last several months, and you’re curious, ask them.


Did you have fun?


I already asked about whether your league mates had fun. I pose this particular question specifically to the fantasy commissioner. Every year,  there’s always a number of fantasy football commissioners bemoaning  how being a fantasy commissioner is a thankless job. Some of these folks will also share that they’ve been running their league “for years.”


Okay, so why are these folks still running a league? Seriously? It’s not complicated. If it’s such an awful job, and it’s such a pain in the keister to deal with a “bunch of babies” (a common description) every season, then why do they continue to run a league? Is anyone forcing them to do it?


Fantasy football is game. If you are not having fun organizing and overseeing this game, then stop. Choose to be just a manager instead.


Not everyone wants to be the Dungeon Master. Not everyone is cut out to be the Dungeon Master. Some may choose to be the ranger wielding the Bow of Algeron instead. Why do some people treat fantasy football differently? Do they (narcissitically) feel they have to run the league because they believe no one else will be able to do as good of a job as they can? Remember what I said about sense of self?


For argument’s sake, let’s say, that out of the assortment of available league members, that’s true. The tradeoff, is that commissioner isn’t having fun playing a game any longer. How is that a good thing? How does a commissioner who truly no longer likes running a league not negatively affect the league and the experience of the others in that league?


If you are no longer having fun running your league, then you seriously need to consider relinquishing the role of commissioner and get back to simply playing the game. Consider finding someone you trust to just run the league. That’s it. They don’t play with the rest of you. That’s just one option. Please don’t come back to Twitter next year telling us how much you hate running your league. Find a solution.


During the offseason, if you need advice, suggestions, or a human sounding board, reach out to me. That’s why I’m here. I’ll be glad to help any way I can.


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