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The toughest role in Fantasy Sports is that of being a Commissioner. It is often a stressful, tedious and thankless task to set up a Fantasy Football league. Myriad choices await you from your choice of application, to the rules and scoring settings, even to window dressings like the theme. Most encumbersome of all is the task of collecting, protecting and dispersing the league dues if you are playing in a money league. This can become particularly murky in family and friends home leagues when you are having to chase down Grandpa Bill for his fifty dollars that he wants to pay using part of his antique coin collection. If you are wrestling with how to improve as a commissioner, here are just a few helpful tips and tricks to navigate the rough and tumble fight of managing a fantasy football league. Call it, 4 Easy Steps to Commissoner-hood 101.

Pay Before You Play

Obviously, when running any paid leagues, you should always collect dues up front. While some may disagree, as a league commissioner, you are taking on the responsibility of covering the prize pool if you do not collect league dues on time. The best thing to do is use a 3rd party site such as LeagueSafe when it is convenient. However, these options may differ for international players outside of the USA. In those cases, usually the best thing to do is appoint a league treasurer along with the commissioner as a separate role. The treasurer’s role is identified exclusively as being someone accountable who can hold the money in reserve and pay it out immediately upon the league’s closing post-championship. It also prevents the commissioner from being accused of any misdeeds with the prize pool, as they do not have access. You’ll want to make sure the treasurer doesn’t run off with the money either, so generally try and choose someone with a well paying job and a history of trust.

Constitutional Fortitude

Being a great commissioner requires a strict adherence to the rules and a high level of moral conviction. Within the agreed upon parameters of your rules and settings, it is your job to ensure that every owner is abiding by the guidelines set out by the league. It has always been my opinion that the commissioner is almost held to a higher standard and level of scrutiny due to the access they have to the settings. Frankly, I get no personal satisfaction in beating my opponents through nefarious means, so to speak, cheating. It might be ok to play the heel in wrestling, but you should never be trying to do so in your fantasy football leagues. Using your commissioner powers to manipulate scores or lineups is never okay, and eventually, most get caught with their hand in the cookie jar and must suffer the repercussions.

Stewards of the League

The truth is, as much as you are there to enforce the rules, a great commissioner is a steward of the league, rather than a commander. The best leagues require active participation from the league members. Generally speaking, in my personal leagues, I take more of a dictatorial approach in terms of the settings and managing trades, but I do so specifically in accordance with the league’s guidelines that the members of my league helped me to create. I might have the final say, but I run everything by my league mates and will take votes to get the majority consensus. When trades go through, I simply observe if the trade is made in collusion or is what I refer to as ‘league breaking stupid’, an example being trading Christian McCaffrey straight up for Justin Tucker. If that person wants to trade Christian McCaffrey for Kyren Williams, Cam Akers and DJ Moore in the preseason, who am I to stop them? CMC was amazing, but that actually wouldn’t be a horrible trade in Week 12-14 as compared to before Week 1. You never know how things will turn out, so barring really crazy stuff, let people manage their teams how they want.

Consistency and Communication

Every league is different because people are different. You have a variety of clashing personalities all playing a game together. At the end of the day, in every single league, no matter the issues, consistency and communication rule all. Being a great commissioner isn’t about never making mistakes, it happens to the best of us. But if you immediately communicate to your league mates and are transparent, generally all problems have solutions. Sometimes, personal feelings can get in the way and the communication breaks down. This is when most leagues are lost and left by the wayside. If you want to avoid becoming just another statistic, make sure you’re always open and honest with your leaguemates.

There are many aspects overall to being a great commissioner, including some that I have probably missed or have yet to learn. However, if you follow this short guide of tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to being known as a top tier commissioner. Remember, we’re all here to have fun. Holla, holla!