“I am bored.”
This is a phrase people have thrown around a lot during this global pandemic. I am guilty of saying it, many times. However, boredom, like all of our emotions, has its functions. For example, boredom has brought me here to write this article. The lack of outside stimulation is useful, because it ends up driving us to do things. Boredom could have driven you to join in a Fantasy Hockey league or a Fantasy Football league. But as the quarantine drags on, now you might feel like you are getting bored of your distraction from boredom. This is where I come in. I made use of my boredom to map out an idea that could lead to a new era of fantasy sports.
Fantasy sports are a fun activity to do with your friends, family, neighbors, friends of friends or even strangers. You get to be your own GM. You draft your players, make trades, sign and drop different players throughout the season, all in competition with your friends. However, playing fantasy sports can also get stale. This could mean that your skill level exceeds the challenge of your league. There could be many reasons for this. You could know the sport better than other people in your league or you could pay more attention thus beating everyone to the best pickups. The latter is probably the most common reason for being the best in your league. Fantasy is fun, but not everyone can keep up. We all get busy and have other priorities in our lives. So, how do we increase our challenge level?
Easy solution: find a new league where everyone is willing to spend 10 to 20 minutes to update their lineups and review for pickups/trades. You also need to find people who have knowledge of the sport and knowledge of the most opportune time to pick up players. One idea on how to weed out the competition is relegation. This is a more complicated solution, but when done right should give the desired effect.
If you are not an English football fan like myself, you may not be familiar with the concept. To put it simply, the 3 teams that finish with the worst point totals get demoted to a lower division and the 3 teams from the lower division that finish with the best point totals get promoted. This makes the leagues interesting not just at the top of the league where they are fighting for the title, but also the teams at the bottom have to fight to stay in the division. The teams that get promoted not only get the pride of being promoted, but also get more money in TV Deals, merchandise sales, and ticket sales.
Keeping People Around
There are potential problems with bringing relegation into fantasy sports. First off, people in your fantasy league can quit at any time. Someone could just wake up one day and say “Yeah I don’t want to” and that is it. You have no real way of forcing people to come back the next season once they are relegated. You can incentivize people to participate by making them pay a security deposit upfront. So before the draft takes place, everyone will have to pay an entry fee of say $50, but also another $50 for the next season as a deposit.
Secondly, why does it matter that you are in a lower division? There is no TV deals or ticket sales like the English Premier League or Bundesliga. Again the answer is incentives. There are many ways you could make the top league more desirable than the lower league, but for me the best way is make it about money. I would make no prize for the lower league, but have a $10 buy in (or whatever amount you want). This money goes into the pot for the upper league. The deposit can either be refunded to everyone who did not get relegated or can be put towards the next season. If someone drops out of the higher league for a reason other than relegation, you can just bring up the 4th place team from the lower division.
Third potential problem; How do you decide who gets to be in the top league and who is in the lower league from the start? You will need more people than your previous seasons 20 people at least (10 in each league) but I would prefer 24 to 28 people for 2 deeper leagues. There are so many ways to decide. One idea could be to make it up to chance like rock paper scissors. My favorite way would be a quiz based on the sport. The top performers of the quiz will start in the upper division and visa versa.
Relegation will weed out people from the top league who do not know the sport well or do not pay attention. There could be a relegation from the lower division as well if you are okay with kicking people out of the league. Yes, this idea is bold and will definitely run into problems but all leagues have potential problems. As long as you clearly lay out the rules and get the money and deposits upfront, this idea can definitely be feasible. Now is the time to set everything up while we all have time on our hands in our quaratines. Believe it or not, fantasy sports have been around since the 1960s, but made popular in the 1980s. It is time we move on from the cookie cutter leagues and usher in a new era of fantasy sports.
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