Dictionary.com defines the word commission as “the act of committing or entrusting a person, group, etc. with supervisory power or authority.” I’ve been playing and commissioning fantasy baseball for almost 25 years now and have on occasion abused that authority to influence change within my leagues. Always with the long-term good of the league in mind, I have encouraged owners to adopt a wide variety of incentive structures that have included elaborate prize payouts, keeper contract systems, supplemental minor league drafts, arbitration and inflation offsets, and a few other random gimmicks. Furthermore, as a regular member of an active, daily fantasy baseball community, I’ve seen countless other versions of these ideas and have had all the common debates about incentives vs. penalties, owner competitiveness vs. engagement, and all the nuances that make for good, healthy ownership and game play. In short, I’ve kind of seen it all.
I’m now ready to admit defeat. Despite my best efforts, there are no universals when it comes to motivating every type of owner to engage fully over the course of a long 162 game baseball schedule. This revelation should be obvious, and perhaps only fellow commissioners will sympathize with this drive to create the perfect league, but it has taken me some time to finally come to grips with this truth. To be clear, it’s not that some of these ideas haven’t worked (I have years of anecdotal evidence that they can and do), it’s just that they are usually designed to address the symptoms that plague poor leagues rather than the core issue.