Are League Constitutions Necessary?
For my first few years in fantasy baseball, I felt that league constitutions were long unnecessary message board posts that no one actually read through. The leagues I were in never had any league splitting issues, which led me to take those constitutions for granted. However, my entire view on constitutions have radically changed over the last year and a half.
The first incident that made me reevaluate my stance was a league I had recently joined. My team had the makings of a rebuild project, so I immediately went to seek out young talent to try and build a future for the team. I decided to build an unbeatable young pitching staff. Now, in this league there was some pretty questionable trades done that were not vetoed. I had no problem with this, as I felt, and still do, that vetoing should only be used in the most extreme cases. There was nowhere in the league constitution that spelled out how a veto could be carried out. I targeted Carlos Martinez to be my 4th starter. The guy I traded with valued him very highly. I ended up packaging Starling Marte and a few other players for CarMart. Now I recognize that this was overpay, but I was obsessed with building a unbeatable pitching staff. The trade ended up being Vetoed out of nowhere. The resulting fallout lead two or three members resigning from the league, including me.This situation could have been avoided with a clear constitution. Even if you choose to use vetoes in your league, it should be clearly laid out how the process will work. Whether that be through league vote or commissioner power.
One large problem in fantasy sports today, especially in dynasty leagues, is the issue of tanking. The question at hand is, where is that fine line between setting up your team for the future, and outright tanking. It's not an easy question to answer. In a basketball league I am not affiliated with, 2 last place teams played each other for who gets the last pick. Both teams ending up benching their best players, and both sides accused the other of tanking. This situation probably sounds all too common to most of you. Your league constitution should clearly lay out what is not acceptable when it comes to tanking. Things like prohibiting benching the team's best players, and promoting good sportsmanship would be some things to include in such a clause.
The final thing I wanted to touch on is something I mentioned at the end of the last paragraph, good sportsmanship. Fantasy sports is supposed to be a way sports fanatics can come together and compete against one another. It can bring out the ugly side in some people though. I have recently become a member at Fantasy Sports Addicts Anonymous, a website where people just hang and talk fantasy baseball. Having met them through their youtube channel, I have probably done close to 10 or 15 mock drafts and other various things over the course of the offseason. We joined a points league that one of the members was commissioning over. This particular league was the subject of my 2nd article titled “How to React when First Year Leagues go Awry." Through chat history, it came to light that this commissioner had cyberbullied a younger member, even going so far as to say to say he should kill himself. The site owners took immediate action, ip banning him from the site and organizing a walk out of that league. The league itself was deleted several days later. However, this shows a ugly window in how competitiveness in fantasy sports can get out of hand.. While most of us take fantasy sports very seriously, it is important to remember that just as any other hobby, it's ultimately for our enjoyment.
To sum up this article, having a constitution for your league can help answer tough questions that come up eventually in every league. Don't let your league have unwritten “rules". Having clearly written down rules will help each commissioner avoid accusations of unfairness or overstepping boundaries.