You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone. While Cinderella’s early 90’s power ballad may have made me queasy at the time, truer words were truly never spoken. I had no idea how lucky I was that my buddy from age five had been our fantasy football league commissioner for all these years. He was truly unbiased and thoughtful in every situation. Whether it was rule changes, votes for new members, or controversial trades, he always put the integrity of the league first. Over these last 15 years, I now realize I have taken him for granted. I never knew how much he improved my quality of life until I started venturing out into new leagues recently.
I feel like all three major sports leagues in the U.S. could take some notes from my old commissioner. Roger Goodell with the NFL has put himself front and center in all things and only cares about his own legacy. Bud Selig has made MLB an old buddy-buddy league that is full of underhanded dealings and biased rulings. David Stern walks around believing that he made the NBA a must see league, even though it was the league that Magic, Bird and Jordan made. I’m not talking about Gary Bettman because, well this isn’t Canada. Is it?
I have joined a bunch of different leagues the last few years and found the commissioners have closely resembled at least one of the big three. In one league, rules were changed after the draft that clearly benefited the commissioner and his cronies. His Bud Selig impression was not appreciated and I was quickly a one and done league champ. The worst situation was when I joined a dynasty fantasy football league that was clearly run by a Roger Goodell clone. Every correspondence was rank with arrogance. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he traded for Jimmy Graham and Dez Bryant and gave up Eli Manning and Michael Turner. I died a little inside when I emailed the entire league to ask for some back up with my protests to this trade-rape, and found no backers. When I pressed one league member about why he didn’t protest the trade he said, “It wouldn’t matter if we protested, the commissioner has complete autonomy over the league and will beat down any challenges in the ranks.”
Situations and priorities change, and so does life. Three kids later, an ever growing workload, and free time that would only be envied by an indentured servant has made it impossible for me to take on the responsibility of being a league commissioner. I feel like I would be unbiased, fair, and decent, but alas I am not available for the job.
The ones that are available sadly don’t measure up. Think about it…who in their mid-thirties to early forties has time to run fantasy leagues? Single guys in their thirties or forties have the time, but do we really want them in charge? They are probably single for a reason. They have either never had their stuff together long enough to impress a mate or have been found wanting by the opposite sex (or same sex) when given the chance. Whether they lied, cheated, or stole none of these traits make for a good commissioner. Ideally, you want your commissioner to be like the dad from Growing Pains, not Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons (Worst Commissioner Ever).
My real frustration comes from the laziness that has permeated some of these leagues. Instead of having an honest commissioner make fair decisions on trades, I have been forced to deal with league votes. How can a league vote ever be fair to a team in a playoff position? It’s like having ten angry jurors deciding your fate. Teams ahead of you have the bias of not wanting you to catch them. Teams below you want to catch up to you and will not be happy if you strengthen your squad. Then there is the team you are playing that week that has the ultimate bias.
Recently I made a trade that had to be put to a league vote. The GM that I was playing that week told me he was voting against the trade solely out of spite. The trade would have given me a little more power and he didn’t want me to make up a disadvantage in homeruns that week. I had to sit on my hands and hope everyone made a fair and unbiased decision. It was gut-wrenching, but it eventually passed. (P.S. Chris Davis hit a two-run homerun on Sunday for me to tie in homeruns and give me the RBI category)
So if you are reading this and feel you are a man among men, please step up to the plate and be a league commissioner. Fantasy leagues need you, I need you, and more importantly, America needs you!
This article also appears at www.FantasyJudgment.com as part of a weekly series called Coach Esser’s Diary.