Dynasty League Football


Don’t Kick the Commish


Editor’s Note:  This analysis is the first contribution by Member Corner Author,  Dave Matula (rangerdave).


The Importance of the League Commission Position

You think about your fantasy football roster, and rarely do you think about your kicker.  For many owners, the kicker is an interchangeable part. You can always find a good kicker, right? Why worry about the position? Unfortunately, there is another position we treat like an interchangeable part; the  league commissioner.

Like the job of fantasy kicker, the job of fantasy commissioner is a thankless one. When things are going good for our team, we love the guy. However, when something goes wrong the commissioner is usually the first person we blame.

We usually put as much thought into who is running our leagues as we do into our selection of kicker. If a league is going to be a success, more thought needs to be put into the commissioner selection.  In most leagues, the commissioner role belongs to the person who founded the league. Often this person is our choice for the job simply because they established the rules and approved the original owners.

The next most common choice for commissioner is the guy who volunteers for the job. This person is a choice of convenience. They usually volunteer with the noble intention of bettering the league, or because nobody else wanted the position, but their agenda may not always be right for the league.

The best way to select a league’s Commissioner is through election. With a properly held election, league owners receive enough information to aid in the selection of their Commissioner. Too often though, elections are hastily set up and completed. Not enough questions are asked of the commissioner candidates. This usually results in the selection of most popular owner, or the owner who spends the most time on their league’s site, and not the owner who is the best fit for the job.

So, what makes for a good commissioner? In order to answer this, we must first define the role of commissioner. A commissioner’s role is to exercise broad administrative and judicial authority over the league in accordance with the league’s bylaws. The fantasy football commissioner enacts rule changes, interprets league bylaws, enforces league rules, and administers punishment for rule infractions. At all times, the Commissioner acts in the best interests of the league as a whole.

There are many things that go into the making of a good fantasy commissioner. There is one thing, though, that is essential to a good commissioner. A good commissioner needs to embrace his role. He is the authority figure in the league and needs to act the part. The weight of the league falls on his shoulders and he must be willing to bear the load. He cannot be every owner’s friend in this role. His decisions will anger others, and he must accept that fate.

Other owners in the league should have a say in the operation of the league through reasonable discussion, but the ultimate ruling on all league matters fall to the commissioner. Polls are useful, but cannot be used to make every decision. If your Commissioner puts up a poll every time an issue crops up in your league, he is not the right man for the job. A good commissioner trusts himself to make the right decisions for his league.

In allowing for discussion of issues, the commissioner does not engage in personal attacks against other owners. An effective Commissioner weighs all viewpoints to come up with a solution that fits the needs of the league. He uses his authority as Commissioner to mediate and end disagreements, not to be a part of them.

When there is a rules violation, the commissioner steps up and enforce the rules, including discipline of other owners. He is not afraid to assess an established penalty or to establish a precedent for penalty.

If your league also uses a co-commissioner or a rules committee, the commissioner’s role does not change. He is still the authority figure in your league. There is the added duty of empowerment in these situations, though. The commissioner must empower these other owners to enact change, and he must allow them to perform administrative tasks, under his supervision.

Your league commissioner is the authority in your league. In order to be effective in that role, he must embrace the powers provided by the office. He cannot allow the inmates to run the asylum. There must be order in the league, and the commissioner’s job is to provide that order. The job of fantasy commissioner is a thankless one. It shouldn’t be that way, though. commissioners need to understand embrace their roles. Owners need to understand the role of commissioner as well, and to to respect the authority of their commissioner. If your league has problems, evaluate your commissioner. He may not be the right man for the job. If your league is running smoothly, though, give your commissioner a little respect and thanks. Don’t treat him like a kicker.


Editor’s Note: You can find more terrific discussion like this on the DLF Forum. If you are not already a member of the forum, you are missing out on connecting with the most knowledgeable and active fantasy football community on the internet.  So join us on the DLF Forum today. It’s free, and it doesn’t suck.

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10 years ago

Well said.

Joe E
10 years ago

Dude..yes… I like this one a lot. As commish of my league for 5 years now, I know all to well the pains involved with the duty. From refereeing trade arguments to creating our rule structure and drawing up our constitution, it’s a never-ending thankless job. Having a good commish makes a world of difference though. I’m a reg owner in other leagues where it just seems like they drew out of a hat for the spot..sometimes I almost feel like I take the spot too seriously, but our league is 12 man $200 buy in, so kinda have to. Nonetheless, another great article by you guys. Keep this stuff coming! (I should forward this link to all my owners, maybe they’ll buy me a couple brews in gratitude)

10 years ago

Nice work Dave!

Ken (aka Melish)
10 years ago

Good Article…

10 years ago

I don’t get the criticism of polls. I poll my league and then after considering the majority opinion I try to make the best decision possible with the poll being only a factor in that decision. The 15 other team owners are very happy with how I run the league.

David Matula
Reply to  Dion
10 years ago

The critcism I have against polls is that there are Commissioners who make all of their decisions based on polls. I have been in leagues where the Commissioner has set up polls for just about every line of a new rules section. In those instances, the Commissioner gave up the role of Commissioner and became nothing more than a secretary.

In your situation, you are using polls as an informational tool, not as a decision maker. It does not sound like you are using polls for every decision that needs to be made.

10 years ago

Good article – I agree with most of it. Like the above poster, I also use polls as an informal tool to gather opinions.

The one item I had an issue with was the idea of electing a commissioner. There may be special instances where this might make sense, but to me, the Commissioner is more than an elected figurehead – he is a Monarch, an Imperial Commander, a king, a god, a dictator. My fantasy leagues are NOT democracies! But I am a compassionate leader… 😀


10 years ago

Good article, but believe you left out the most crucial element of any commissioner which is communication. A commissioner MUST communicate with the league and expect that the other members communicate back. Additionally, they must be accessible and not disappear for extended periods. I have found that through being straight forward and clearly laying out the rules/expectations that not only will league members be less likely to have infractions, but they too will help to enforce the bylaws. Is commissioner a thankless job that comes with more headaches than a simple owner? Yes, but the satisfaction of seeing a league prosper and grow is well worth the price in my book.

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