Last week I posed the question
as to how a league handles new rules or rules modifications. Pretty
much all the responses indicated that any rules changes are proposed
by league members and put to a league vote in the off-season. That’s
about what I expected to see. However I don’t handle my league
exactly in that manner. As the commissioner, I do collect ideas
for rules modifications each off-season and if I don’t have
a strong opinion on then one way or the other, I put them out to
the league members for a vote. However if I strongly favor or oppose
a change I’ll implement it or reject it without league approval.
Does that make my league a dictatorship? Maybe a little bit.
However I have a guiding principal behind my league in that I
like to simulate the NFL as much as possible within the framework
of a fantasy football league. So when I decided I wanted to mimic
the NFL policy of making the stronger teams from the prior season
play a more difficult schedule, the league wasn’t too trilled
about this. It would mean breaking up some divisions where friends
got to play each other more often and also meant that all of last
year’s playoff teams would be competing head to head for
8 of 13 games. I went against the league and put this rule in
place because it fit with my vision for the league. After the
first season with this rule, owners are happy with it for the
most part (note – all your team owners will NEVER be happy
all the time). My point with all this is that, while a league
shouldn’t be at the mercy of a commissioner, it doesn’t
have to be democracy for it to be enjoyable for all. Keep in mind
your commissioner spends a lot of time reviewing all facets of
your league and probably has a pretty good idea as to what rules
will and won’t improve your league. As for commissioners,
you may think have all the answers for running your league, but
leaning on your league members and even looking at other leagues
can give you great ideas on how to make your league better every
This week I received an excellent question regarding the “tanking”
of games. This particular incident occurred in a dynasty league
where the team with the worst record receives the top pick in
the draft. This provided an incentive for owners with poor teams
to lose intentionally. In this particular case, the owner in question
validated his decision to bench his best players each week by
claiming that he was not impacting the league as he lost every
game he played.
So the question is how do you keep owners from intentionally
losing games, especially in dynasty or even re-draft leagues where
poor performance can result in a high draft pick for next season?
I. Create A Rule That Allows The Commissioner
To Take Action For The Integrity Of The League
First and foremost you need a rule that prohibits intentional
losing and penalties for doing so. This is a difficult rule to
write because evaluating whether or not a team tanked is usually
going to be subjective. However you can usually spot this over
a number of weeks and as commissioner you’ll have to make
that evaluation and take action. In the case above, a rule against
tanking might state that if an owner is found to be tanking games,
they would be relegated to the last pick of the draft for next
season. This may prevent an owner from blatantly losing games
throughout the course of the year. Of course I think that an owner
who is willing to throw away an entire season to play for next
year should be removed from your league. I’ve never had
a case of intentionally losing games occur in my league but I
have had an inactive owner to deal with which is a similar situation.
I had to take control of that owner’s team and remove him
from the league.
II. Provide Motivation For Weaker Teams To Compete
To The End
In a re-draft league where the draft position isn’t as
important, it’s still necessary to make sure owners with
weaker teams have an incentive to play. First, a weekly prize
will motivate most owners to set their best lineup. Even teams
that don’t have much to play for have a shot at a weekly
high score. Another way to keep owners involved though the end
of the season is to have a post season tournament for the teams
that don’t make the playoffs and attach a prize to the winner
of this tournament. It will keep your owners of weaker teams from
losing interest. If having all these rules in place does not keep
owners from quitting or tanking, be prepared to step in and take
control of team(s) to mitigate the damage to your league.
III. Explain To Owners The Impact Intentional
Loses Has On The League
Intentional losses can destroy the integrity of your league.
Why? Because when one team gets a give-me win from a "tanker"
it creates bogus records and league friction. Maybe that give-me
win changes who does or doesn't make the playoffs. As you can
imagine, inactive or intentional losing has the potential to tear
apart a league and the problem needs to be addressed as quickly
as possible so league integrity remains intact.
That wraps up this session of the Commissioner’s Court.
Next week begins the first week of the regular season and fantasy
games begin for real. If anyone had any
questions regarding scoring systems I think week one would
be a good time to delve into those. Good luck to all in week one.