|"The key to creating any good league is planning for now and planning for the future. So, before you start, take the time to figure out where your league will be five season from now (about one year in actual time).'||The
At one time or another, your playing in a league and the thought probably enters your head: I could do this better. With delusions of grandeur and a brand new set of league files, you march of like Paul Tagliabue on Viagra and prepare to start commissioning your own league.
So, where do you begin? Do you just churn up some league files for a few groupies, order owners to get the OUT files in by a deadline and march on? What about glitches, problems, headaches and all the OTHER things associated with commissioning an FBPro league? Have you figured out what to do with them or even what they are yet. Let me help you.
I've commissioned three leagues, the Online Football League, Bighit Football and a 'tweener league. All were (and are) successful for a few reasons other than "having an awesome web site" or the number of hits you count every day. Here's what I see as keys to success:
The league is made up of people. If you have a hard time dealing with people on a one-to-one basis, you are defensive or, if you find that every time someone is critical of your work, you become especially defensive and activate the flame-thrower, you will fail. Miserably. Most of being a good commissioner, including a lot of drudge work (which I'll get to in a minute) is dealing with people one on one. Also, group dynamics and how people will accept or decline decisions. How will you make those decisions? Vote? By committee? How will you handle the backlash. Every move you make is viewed, handled and judged by people. There's no two ways around it. You will not make every one happy.
There's plenty of working in the trenches. So, you're going to commish and own a team, huh? OK. get ready. Here's what you'll need to do every week, in no particular order. Make free agent moves, trades and signings. Prepare the weekly files. Handle complaints and disputes. Send the league files out. Make sure everyone GOT the league files. Figure out who is and is not playing. Collect the OUT files, and then update the post week files. Send out the post week files. Make sure everyone got those files. Update the web page, including stats, news, sounds and pictures. Read ALL the e-mail every day that comes in. And then, if you have time, prepare your own team for battle by making plays, plans and profiles. Couple all of this with going to college or working or just being a student and that's plenty. Know how to manage your time, schedule your tasks and get it all done. Otherwise, you'll be bogged down.
Stick to your guns. One of the hardest aspects of being in charge of anything is making decisions. Not everyone will like what's decided, but in a organization like an on-line football league, there are decisions to be made, like switching gaming platforms, adding a salary cap or making roster changes. If your league votes on issues, then be sure to examine the vote and make sure it is what is right for your league. Everyone may be in favor of what's out there, but is it something that will keep the league steaming along for three to five more seasons or will you end up tanking the whole affairs by the end of one campaign? As commissioner (or as I prefer, league manager), it's your job to ensure the body survives. Remember your Spock: the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few -- or the one. And Spock never simmed a down in his life!
People want to play football. And, because of this axiom, people draw their experiences from two channels -- what they see in the NFL and what they themselves have lived, playing in high school, college or possibly even coaching. Your job is to give them as close to that experience as possible while still maintaining that the game is a simulation of real football.
Ask questions. People always want more. It's human habit. It's that "give them an inch, they'll take a mile." Some do not, but that's a minority. if you fail to give your league the most robust of conditions and offer the most bang for the buck, expect your owners' eyes to wander to look for greener pastures. So, continually ask what you, as commissioner, can do to improve the league. That may mean from time to time, taking a poll or simply going from member to member and asking some questions one on one.
Have fun! Yeah, it seems obvious, but when you are caught up in the rush of getting things done, it's easy to lose sight of the fun aspect of playing. This can come by spreading yourself too thin (doing too much or being involved in too many leagues) or just losing your love for the game. If that happens, it's time to move on. But, if it's something you really enjoy, keep at it and you'll find a way to make it all happen.
Here are some other notes:
-- There are already a gluttony of leagues on the Internet. Instead of trying to find greener pastures, try improving on your own league and asking the members to do the same.
-- The key to creating any good league is planning for now and planning for the future. So, before you start, take the time to figure out where your league will be five season from now (about one year in actual time). Will the ratings jump up too high? Play making rules? Web site?
-- Speaking of web sites, determine who your web site is for and why it's there. Is it there just for the owners? Is it a recruiting tool to get more members? Is it simply a billboard to post stats and let numbers freaks smile? In my mind, the web site is one of the LAST things planned after you've created a solid set of files, gathered a good group of people and established a rapport with the members of the group.
-- Finally, you keep members by making them happy. Sometimes, you have no control over this (like, when a new guy tanks 14 of 16 games), but you have more control than you know. Do your best to keep people's interest and understand how THEY are drawn to the game. Then, meet their needs as best as you can (and within reason).
Others will attack the commissioning aspect differently than this, but I've always believed in these traits, especially having done this now for more than four years. The key is people and treating them with respect and meeting their needs. The rest can take care of itself.