Welcome to the Commish’s Corner, Where You Get to See How the Other Side Lives

Feb 23, 2011


By Adam Holtz
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Fantasy Commissioner. The title brings to mind a stereotypical nerd – complete with taped glasses and pocket protector. The commish is usually regarded as the guy who does one or more of the following in your league:.
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  • 1.  Runs the draft; or, more exactly, RUINS the draft.
  • 2.  Collects (“steals”?) all your dues money, leaving you to wonder, “If I win, when will I be paid?”
  • 3.  Misinterprets or flat-out changes league rules mid-season, usually to the benefit of his team.
  • 4.  He insults whoever wins the league, insisting that the champ is (at best) a poor sport and (at worst) a cheater.
  • 5.  Never lets you hear the end of it when his team wins it all (never mind, we all do that).

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Now, truth be told, far too many commissioners actually do fit these stereotypes, much to the chagrin of fantasy players. Most of us just want to play in a league and have fun, but commissioners who do any of the things listed above can make it very difficult for the rest of the league to enjoy the fantasy season.

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Do a little experiment for me. Grade the commissioner of each of your fantasy leagues. Any sport; doesn’t matter. How good a job does s/he do? A-B-C-D-F. Now grade each league you play in and use the same scale, but based on how much fun you have in those leagues. I bet you’ll see a strong correlation between the commish doing a good job and how much fun you have playing in that league.
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The bottom line is this: A good commissioner makes for a good league, and a good league makes for a lot of fun for everyone, win or lose. And honestly, most of us are in fantasy sports for fun. (Yes, the money is nice, but if you can’t handle not winning some dough, then you’re probably best served playing in a no-money league.)
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So, as I start writing this column, I have three objectives for readers:
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  • 1.  Help commissioners make themselves better commissioners, no matter how good they already might be (including myself; I’m not perfect by any means).
  • 2.  Enlighten people who aren’t commissioners as to just what a commissioner does, and ought to do; and how they can encourage their commissioners, as well as hold them accountable if they slack.
  • 3.  Make leagues a lot more fun to play in – for everyone.

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In future editions of this column, I hope to address many of those stereotypes about commissioners, exploring why they exist and how they can be avoided by your commish. I’ll also periodically offer some ideas that intrigue me for various rules: how to run a league, how to score, how to level the playing field (or make it more lopsided), etc. I’ll always take readers’ ideas for columns too – yes, I’ll pander to the masses.
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Most of my 15 years of playing fantasy sports (and all 15 years of commissioner experience) are from the football realm, so don’t be surprised or annoyed if I don’t always give equal time to the baseball and basketball (and even NASCAR, hockey and golf) segments of the fantasy landscape. No disrespect to the other sports, I just don’t have as much knowledge and expertise to offer on them; however, many things from a commissioner’s perspective tend to be applicable (in some form) to any league.

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Mostly, what I’d like to see is feedback from readers – regardless of whether you agree or disagree with any stance I might take. Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I like to think that I am one of those educated minds, able to have discussion with others and entertain their points of view without necessarily endorsing them if I don’t agree. So let me know what you think!
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Finally, like I’ve already said, we play fantasy sports for fun (most of us). So when I suggest or recommend something that you don’t like, please don’t take it personally. Just tell me what you don’t like; but also tell me what you do like. But remember that fantasy sports are all about fun, so enjoy the banter and add to it with some of your own.

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Adam Holtz is a former college sports information director living in southern Minnesota. His 15 years of playing fantasy sports – as well as 15 years of commissioner work – have given him a wealth of experience on which to draw. Sorry ladies, he is happily married. Check out his blog at champguy.blogspot.com

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