George Blanda Rotisserie Football League


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Article 17

by Steve Stegeman (August 3, 2001)
Guest Writer,

This article is also up at FF Today.  Click here to go there and view it.


     As I compose this and consider its eventual publication here on the internet, the irony of this all (as well as my angst) is noteworthy…

     As a 13-year veteran of fantasy football, who harks back to the days when "rotisserie" was the prevalent term in the world of "fantasy" sports and magazines were the pervasive source of information, I am proud to see how the hobby has grown… up. Anymore, there appears to be so many participants covering a wide demographic range, spreading a zeal for the great game of football to reaches that before fantasy football existed could not have been fathomed. Sheer increase in numbers aside, fantasy football critics and naysayers say what you want, but it cannot be denied that fantasy football has made (for) a more intelligent fan/football enthusiast. And, now, with [the (r)evolution of] the internet, the potential for growth and diversification increases exponentially, and the possible manifestations of the hobby on-line are intriguing and progressive and provide a milieu which is 1) conducive to innovation via computer capabilities such as message boards, which provide forums for the sharing of ideas, and 2) propitious to the infusion into our game of personality and creativity from a diversity of individuals approaching football from various perspectives by way of the creation of fantasy football information and, even more so, league web sites.

     However, I fondly recall a more grassroots era, a time when the typical league was primarily composed of locals, co-workers, colleagues and school buddies, who used it as a means to keep in touch as life takes them in different directions, and guys with names like Mikey, Steve, Franko, Davie, Rob, Joey, Mark or Danny who, as friends or friends of friends, tried to get together for the games; snail mail, the phone and perhaps the fax machine for the more technically adroit were the modes of correspondence, and the scoring system was standardized and a mere afterthought. Nowadays, debates about scoring systems litter on-line message boards, and it is commonplace to play in "leagues" with people, to whom we cannot put a face, going by names like:
Barfing dog, King D-i-c-ktka, Oprah's brown eye, fu-q-all, AnotherNondescriptPackerFan, [arsenal], a$$wipe, ultimateFFwarrior (who, by the way, has never even strapped on flags, no less a helmet and pads), William51, ®evenge, Inveterate
, Megalomaniac, Peter North, StegRock (what a mo-mo that guys is ;o) ), etc.

     This internet-induced impersonalization is not only comedic, but ironically needless as the vast majority of these guys were or would be fantasy footballers or at least football fans regardless of the internet. Notwithstanding the FF Geek moniker, it is not that your average internet nerd browsing for info on alien abduction stumbles across the ESPN web site and does a 180, realizes his latent pigskin passion and joins a fantasy football league. In large, the internet is just a new tool/toy for the fantasy football aficionado. The guys you are conversing with on FF message boards are the same guys with whom you talk football at the proverbial water cooler.

     The internet indubitably provides greater access to the game. No argument there! But, to whom? The inherent problem here is that the number of leagues is increasing at a rate disproportionate to the relatively slower growth in the number of participants, i.e., there are not 12 FF newborns for every new 12-team FF league that pops up, literally, out of thin air, i.e. cyber space. The high potential for apathy, which predictably comes about due to this, is a true dilemma, which gets exacerbated and its solution convoluted because of a misunderstanding of the aforementioned real source of the problem. This brings me to an article that exemplifies this dynamic and is the cause of that angst to which I initially made reference.

     In this article, unorthodox variations on scoring systems, league structure and administration are proposed. Though some of the proposals are within the realm of reason, some are absolutely preposterous. In the article, the following league variations are endorsed: Mandatory Trading League, Alma Mater League, Poach Draft Leagues, The Alphabet League, Morality Clause System, Berman Bonus System, Benevolent Despot Commissioner, Instant Replay, Rules Auctions, etc. Yet, ideas like the Direct Comparison System, which was the format used by one of the original old rotisserie sports companies, Armchair Sports Group, back in the '80's, is lumped into this steaming heap of admittedly crazy rules crap. All that said, it is the premise of the article that is unsettling. The real problem (that I have, I suppose) is a paradigmatic one. If not explicitly, the theme of the article is one that inherently makes the type of system or framework used the focal point, as that which makes the game, moreover, fun or is at least a vital element contributing thereto to a degree that merits media-scale elaboration. It also, even more directly, opens the door for the introduction/establishment of even more leagues in an, as previously explained, already saturated venue. More types of leagues potentially mean more leagues, more leagues adding to the excess of leagues that already exists and giving players even more leagues to join, thus further thinning out the devotion/allegiance of a fantasy footballer to a particular league. Though thresholds may vary, you will generally find that most "seasoned" fantasy footballers would say that less is better when it comes to the number of leagues in which to participate. Unfortunately, the life's blood of this "reasonable, real-world outlook" seems to get sucked dry in the worldwide web. If you just cannot help but join a lot of leagues, check out the "Rules & Scoring" of the CBFL, which offer a reasonable, low-maintenance alternative to the regular league set-up, which typically takes significant effort that could be being devoted to one league.

     As in any game or sport, it is not the rules that make the game fun. It is the people, and that is where the focus should be. What does this mean to you, the fantasy footballer, substantively speaking? Well, if you are a commissioner of a league, run a tight ship, eliminate deadweight, know candidates well possibly by way of a phone interview if need be before extending membership, nurture the human element by getting to know the participants as people, encouraging communication by phone and leading by example by picking up the phone yourself, do not just dismiss the creative/artistic side of the hobby like team names and build your own unique web site for the league if you have the time, and be democratic and inclusive when making decisions about the league; whatever the rules may be make sure they are clear and fair and enforce them strictly and uniformly. As a player, be supportive of such a commissioner, play in and focus your energies ideally on just one league and, for goodness sake, participate or get out. Fantasy footballers, point your energies in this direction and away from the endless, mundane and sterile contemplation of the numbers and how they are best processed, rules structures and administrative techniques. Whatever the system, if the people involved are not enthusiastic and dedicated, the league will fall short of your expectations.




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Revised: 14 4 2002 12:22:22