The National Football League exhibition schedule has begun, which means fantasy football season is kicking off as well.
I love playing fantasy sports. I remember first reading about them in high school. Some friends and I that loved baseball decided to start our own league. We kept the rules fairly simple and were really more curious about how it worked then we were interested in competing with one another, especially since there were just a handful of us playing anyway.
I decided I liked it, probably much more than most people. Over the last 30 years or so, I’ve competed in multiple fantasy football and baseball leagues every year. I’ve dabbled in basketball and hockey too but mainly stick with the two big ones in the world of fantasy sports.
I’ve played about every style there is, from seasonlong rotisserie to head-to-head games where lineups can change daily. I’ve been partners with friends in some leagues that were slightly higher stakes, but mostly I just take on those same friends for bragging rights, trophies and maybe a little beer money.
Let me stress that I said PLAYING fantasy sports. Being the commissioner of a league is an entirely different thing.
I have been the commissioner of a football league in Sheldon for 21 years. I love the league, and I hate being in charge of it.
Without fail, it is the league my team performs the worst in, and I’d like to think it’s because of all the distractions that come with being in charge. That might not actually be the case, but I’d like to think so.
I actually got hoodwinked into being in charge in the first place. Former REVIEW sales rep Scott Jensen asked me if I wanted to play when I first started working here. The former sports editor had a team, and Jensen asked if I would take it over. After I agreed, he dropped the little bombshell.
“Oh that’s good, because the sports editor here has always been the commissioner of the league,” he said.
Back then it was all done on paper, which made for a little extra work every Tuesday, but it was fun work. I didn’t mind that part.
Eventually, we put our league online, which is both a blessing and a curse. While the site does the work for you as far as postgame math, setting it up in the first place was a bear. And not every rule that was previously in place in our league was even an option on the website. So then you had to contact everyone and pass new rules to fit what was available on the web. I tried calling tech support about customizing a rule once, and the guy tried to tell me “That’s not how fantasy football is played.” Really dude? It’s played however the people in the league decide it’s played. Every league is different. And every time you switch web sites, which happens due to changes in price or preference, you have to go through all this again.
Every year, usually after some prodding from former staff writer Dan Breen, I try to get in touch with all of my league mates through the website. It was easier in the old days when everyone in the league worked in the same office, but that’s not the case anymore. The problem with using the website is, as ultrahip youngster Ty Rushing reminded me, most of the guys have it on an app on their phone and delete it when the season is over, so they never see the initial message at the start of the year. That means I’ve got to use text, e-mail and social media just to make sure everyone that was in last year is still in. If someone is out, then I have to go recruit new members.
Then every year I ask if there is any interest in rule changes. There are several issues that come up during the course of the year that could be remedied by rule changes, but the problem is by the new year everyone forgets what those issues were and what rules they wanted to change. Then people suggest changes when we get to the draft. In some cases, this is like changing the subject on a test that you had been studying for at the last minute. Welcome to history class — here is your math quiz.
I have to find a place to have the draft. Then I have to create a draft board or some type of process to record our picks. On the day of the draft, just about always someone doesn’t show up or is late. I have to decide what to do about that. There have been times where a person has phoned it in, and then I have to talk to them on the phone and keep them updated on picks in real-time. That makes it really hard to focus on who I want to pick for my own team. In case you are wondering, the desire to concentrate on actually picking my own team is why I don’t do it online as the draft moves along. That and potentially slow wi-fi or connection issues.
I have managed to delegate the whole handling of dues and prizes to someone else (thanks Mark Mahoney), but I used to have that to worry about too.
Then there is inevitably one or two times during a year when a rule is broken or someone feels like a situation is unfair and I’ve got to moderate that too.
Still, I’d rather play than not play. The feeling of seeing your guy go off on Monday Night Football to give your team a win makes for a much more fun Tuesday. Bragging rights among friends are priceless.