For years now, I have been running NCAA pools, Superbowl squares and of course, fantasy football leagues. I have had ups and downs throughout my years of running leagues. I’ve blogged about it many times. Last season was particularly hard. Not only was it the only year I did not win, but I endured a coup of sorts–Fitzgeraldgate 2011. I won’t get into it, but let’s just say it was a dark era in my reign as commissioner of a fantasy football league. You have to make hard decisions when you’re the commissioner of a league. You’re held to a different standard and you’re ALWAYS to blame for ANYTHING that goes wrong. It’s a lot of responsibility. And I think I’m ok with not having that on me anymore.
When I stepped away from my NCAA pool duties after more than seven years, everyone was shocked. I stepped away because things were getting messy. I started running pools before you could do them online, back when things were simpler. Everyone hands you a printed bracket, you keep them in a folder along with the payment money. Then it went online. Everyone wanted to use the online format. I don’t think I switched over until 2006, and even then, I copied most of the brackets down so I could manually keep track of points since I had special scoring that a computer system couldn’t do. Then things got sloppy. Payment wasn’t collected up front since I was allowing last minute submissions. Some people never paid at all. The online system forced me to do away with special scoring (more points for guessing all the 5-12 matchups correctly, more points for putting an underdog in the final four, etc..). The messier things got, the less I wanted to be a part of it. It reminds me of the last couple seasons of a dying sitcom, or the last few months of a dying relationship, just never the same as it used to be. And now that’s how I feel about fantasy football.
I had a moment of reflection last season when personal attacks against me came into the picture. I in no way deserved it and it hurt me in a way that only friends can hurt you. This hurt bled into other parts of my life as well. I was in a great relationship at the time. I was so distressed over what was happening in this fantasy world that I could barely see the effect it was having on the real world. I asked myself at the time what it was all worth. My friends were attacking me over a game (a game about a game!). I don’t mean to sound dramatic here, but this was not a fun few months of my life. I had the worst commissioner season ever. I felt like at one point or another, everyone either hated me, hated being in the league, didn’t trust me, or thought the league was some sort of joke. I was thisclose to ending the league mid-season, but then decided against it. I’m no quitter, so I held my ground and stuck out the season. But now I’m contemplating hanging up the old commissioner hat and retiring. Sometimes you have to know when you’re done. There isn’t anything sadder than seeing someone trying to hold on to something that is no longer theirs. It’s true in sports, it’s true in fantasy sports and it’s true in life. Sometimes others force you to see it, but if you’re lucky, you get the chance to see it yourself and bow out with grace.