Last Month's Question
question I most recently posed to the fantasy community concerned
the so-called “loss in productivity” that efficiency
experts attribute to the phenomenon of fantasy football in the
workplace. I wanted to know whether managers in corporate America
really perceive FF as more of a bane or a boon in the workplace.
Since the question was posed on a website dedicated to fantasy
football, I expected to get a number of “boon” responses.
As was inevitable, I also received a few responses from people
who seemed to think that if they claimed to be their own bosses,
they could use my column as a forum in which to give themselves
permission to surf the Internet for fantasy information all day
at work. My advice to those who want to pretend to be high-muckety-mucks
in corporate America is two-fold. In the first place, please don’t
ever claim to be an executive if you do not understand that the
word ‘executive’ is spelled with a ‘c.’
Also, please reflect on the possibility that it is difficult to
rise to an executive position in a company without using verbs
in your sentences.
However, once we set aside the responses that were transparent
attempts to impersonate corporate authority, we are left with
a number of intelligent replies from a wide variety of readers.
I’ll start with this cogent response from Tamra:
I fit the profile you are looking for perfectly. I work
as a people manager in corporate America. I’m relatively
new to fantasy football and will be entering my third season this
year. Not only do I play, but this year I asked one of my employees
and my administrative assistant to join the league. Both guys
love football and are very excited. I have another employee on
the waiting list in case someone in the league from last year
decides not to renew.
A reader named Andrew had this to say about his decision to spend
time at work on FF:
Extending this offer not only strengthened these existing relationships,
but it truly has helped to build my network. People will overhear
our conversations and join in. I’ve met new people, made
new business contacts and made new friends because of my decision
to play this great game.
Efficiency experts tend to forget about the most important aspect
of any business, its people. We are all excited about draft day
and getting the season started. Excitement is contagious, regardless
of its source.
I’m sending this from
my company email on company time after having read your article
about 5 minutes ago. I am a mid-level manager who has no direct
reports but manages a variety of ‘virtual teams’.
Personally I’m not too fond of socializing with my colleagues,
so I haven’t got a clue if anyone else is ‘wasting
time’ on ff when they should be working. What I do know
is that I spend about 50 hours a week working, so if I want to
check the pool at 9:30 AM instead of 6 pm I’m going to do
it. Basically I’m secure in the knowledge that I am valuable
to the company and can’t imagine a scenario where I would
be disciplined for something that doesn’t affect my (elite)
performance on the job.
Then too, there was this nifty little anecdote from Scott:
As for my team members, as long as their deliverables are not
affected, I couldn’t care less what they do on a minute-to-minute
basis. Frankly, I can’t even fathom a scenario where I would
care, as long as they are answering their phone and doing their
job. Perhaps in some businesses (such as a call centre or a factory)
the firm depends on line workers for productivity right down to
how many minutes they are in the washroom. However, most businesses
(especially at a management level) are focused on people making
sound business decisions based on good strategic planning. I find
people are much more likely to make the right choice if they have
the incentive to work either through financial benefits or through
other perks like Internet access or the ability to telework.
One industry that really seems to ‘get’ this is advertising
where creative employees pretty much do whatever they want so
long as the ads they make are winning awards and keeping clients
happy. My office is not quite so lenient, but I can tell you we
are nowhere close to peering over people’s shoulders or
counting the seconds they spend on the internet……except
in our call centres….HA!
I wanted to share an experience with fantasy football networking
that paid benefits for my company and clients this past Friday.
I am an I.T. datacenter manager for a couple of hospitals in
Nashville. We were out of an unusual type of magnetic tape,
and I was trying to borrow some from another company around
town. (Kinda like borrowing a cup of sugar.) My first calls
were to a couple of friends that I had worked with years ago
and a couple of vendors. After an hour of trying, I had no luck.
I then remembered that I play in a league with a half dozen
IT folks. I started on my fantasy email list. Within the next
hour I had located the tapes. With those contacts I touched
nearly every IT concern in the music business, state government,
another hospital, a bank, and few other businesses. I was blown
I believe that because it was an email from a fantasy mate,
my emails received immediate attention—and the recipients
all enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. One of my contacts in the
music business used his contact in yet another league to check
the bank. This fantasy thing has legs!
As I indicated already I am a manager, but I am unaware of
any of my folks playing fantasy sports. My workplace blocks
any sites that mention "games" and some other keywords
that make it tough to do much fantasy research. That’s
fine with me. However, I do see quite a share of research on
recipes, shopping, real estate, mathematics, etc with the folks
that report to me. These sites are not blocked...yet.
Of course, I did hear from a few people who think that FF in
the workplace is getting out of hand. The most succinct response
along these lines came from Terry, who wrote, “I just read
your article on FF and cyberslacking. Notably, I spent 10 minutes
at work reading it. ‘Nough said.”
This Week's Question: Your Fantasy Poster Boy
Invites Leagues to Go on the Record
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the average
fantasy player is a 37-year-old white male in a white collar job
with a bachelor’s degree and an average household income
of $76,689. Once I read that “average” profile, I
realized how unsurprising it is that I do a lot of writing for
the fantasy football audience. In fact, it turns out that I am
the fantasy football audience.
I will turn 37 during the upcoming football season; I am white;
I am male; I have a bachelor’s degree (and then some—as
my mother would say); I work in a white collar job (though I happen
to be wearing an orange collar as I write this column); my household
income isn’t exactly $76,689—but that figure strikes
a little too close to home for my comfort. Do these FSTA folks
have my social security number too?
Since I’m a little weirded out at the moment by how close
I come to the “average” FFer, I want to use my next
column to inform readers about the variations within the fantasy
football community. The guys who got this fantasy ball rolling
back in the Reagan era must be in their 50s or 60s by now. I want
to hear from some of them. And even if most FFers are male, I
know plenty of women who play, too. If you belong to an all-female
league, I want to hear about it.
If you play for freakishly high or low stakes, belong to a league
with an insanely high or low number of owners, impose more bizarre
penalties on losers than a “toilet bowl” prize, refer
all league disputes to the Dalai Lama, or hold your drafts while
ice fishing in February, I want to know.
I’ve already heard from numerous readers who all believe
that their leagues are the oldest in the country. Some claim that
their league is the oldest “in continuous operation”;
others that theirs is the oldest “under the same commissioner”;
still others claim to be the oldest simply because the folks who
are participating have never heard of any leagues that are older.
I’m not really looking to start a pissing contest here,
but if you think your league is one of the most long-lived in
FFL history, please let me know when it was founded, how many
charter members there were, how many of those members are still
playing, and what evidence you have to support the claim that
you really were playing fantasy football before the merger of
the AFL and NFL.
I’m primarily looking for the kinds of quirky information
that questionnaires are unlikely to generate, but here are some
questions that you might want to answer in response to this column:
- Your Name
- Your League’s Name
- Number of Owners in the League
- Year the League was Founded
- Year You Joined the League
- Notable Members of Your League (Hint: If your name is Troy
Aikman and the notable owners’ names that you can think
of are Jerry Jones and Al Davis, that wasn’t fantasy football;
it was the NFL. You shouldn’t be answering these questions,
Troy, but you have our sympathy. We know those concussions linger.)
- Entry Fee
- Championship Prize
- League Format (Dynasty, Keeper, Redrafter)
- Player Acquisition Format (Serpentine Draft, NFL-Style Draft,
- Scoring Format (Head-to-Head, Points, Hybrid)
- Points Earned Format (Scoring-only, Performance)
- What sets your league apart from other FFLs?
Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)
These picks come courtesy of Matthew Schiff, a reader who once said
to himself, “Hey, I bet I can make better LMS picks than that
hack Davis!”—and went on to do just that. In 2003, he
finished 43-8; in 2004 he finished 32-17. Most readers will be particularly
interested in Matt’s trap games, as he does an excellent job
of choosing the one game each week that is most likely to lead LMS
participants into error.
Trap Game: Cincinnati
Many experts have picked Cincinnati as a team on the verge of
the playoffs. While Carson Palmer should step up and lead this
team into the post-season this year, Cleveland is expected to
be in total disarray. The Browns have three unpromising running
backs and an offense that has been overshadowed by the stupidity
of tight end Kellen Winslow.
With all that said, the Browns are a tough team to beat in the
"dawg pound", especially early in the season when there
are a lot of unknowns. While the Bengals will probably finish
9-7 or 10-6 this year, the Browns just might shock them with a
game-winning field goal in the last two minutes.
#3 (0-0 in 2005)
Carolina over New Orleans
Normally I would pick this as a trap game. These divisional rivals
know each other very well, and their games are usually decided
by a play or two (usually trick plays). Unfortunately for the
Saints I think that they will still be focused on the aftermath
of Katrina, and it’s no good wondering about where you are
going to be playing when you are running up against a team that
looks a lot like the squad that represented the NFC in the Super
Bowl two years ago. Make no mistake; the Carolina offense is not
to be mistaken for the St. Louis Rams of the Kurt Warner era.
However, this team is stronger defensively than probably 30 teams
in the NFL. Look for the Panthers to win by at least
A touchdown on opening day as the NFL remembers both the World
Trade Center victims as well as Hurricane Katrina's victims.
#2 (0-0 in 2005)
Pittsburgh over Tennessee
The Steelers were one game away from going to the Super Bowl
and the only team in their way was the reigning Super Bowl Champs,
the New England Patriots. While Ben Roethlisberger was learning
the ropes about playoff football, he had a system that protected
him from having to do anything extravagant to win the game. This
same system will help him against a team that is in a period of
transition. Chris Brown is expected to be the starting running
back, but Travis Henry will be pushing hard all season to take
his job. At the same time, Steve McNair seriously thought about
retiring over the offseason and is coming back for what might
be his last hurrah. Even with McNair in the lineup the Titans
are one or two players short of beating the Steelers at home—and
this game, while not being a blowout, might be decided before
the beginning of the second half.
#1 (0-0 in 2005)
St. Louis over San Francisco
If St. Louis plays anywhere close to the level that they achieved
vs. the Detroit Lions in their pre-season game, this game may
be decided by the end of the first quarter. However, Tim Rattay
might have enough poise in the pocket to keep this close until
the end of the third quarter, at which point the running of Stephen
Jackson should more than overpower the defense of the 49ers. While
the pick of the week last year usually was the team playing the
49ers or the Miami Dolphins, don't assume that this will be the
case every week this season. Only this week, the Rams, who should
be the favorites to win the NFC West, should take advantage of
a team that is rebuilding even though they are at home, and this
is a divisional game where anything can happen.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question or to share your LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football