Contributed By: Frank Fulton
You get an email from the new guy in your league who wants to trade you one of the top players in the league for a player on your roster that you know just went on the IR for the season, and he doesn’t seem aware of it…
Do you tell him, or let him learn the hard way?
After weeks of negotiation, you have just traded your backup running back for the young QB you have targeted, the deal has been agreed on by both parties and you are just waiting for commissioner to enter the deal in your league management software when you find out your starting RB pulled up lame in practice…
Do you petition the commissioner to withdraw the deal, or go with what you already agreed to?
Your team is out of the chase at 2-9 and playing one of the top teams, who suggest if you throw the game to them they will give you a cut of the prize money…
You’ve invested a bundle into the season and this seems a good way to break even, or is it?
These are questions of ethics, which means only you can have the right answer.
This article is not coming to you from a moral high ground, but is rather an examination of Fantasy Football (FF) ethics. FF can be compared to any type of competition where the foundation of the game is based on the ethics of the combatants who make up the structure of the league. The ethical standard in a majority of the leagues would say that you never would trade a player that you know is damaged goods. However, there are also leagues that encourage aggressive behavior and solicit the “every man for himself” attitude. Neither is wrong, as ethics are perceptual, however it does point out the importance of knowing which league you are in and who is in that league with you.
Let’s think like Einstein for a moment here. Ethics is the philosophy of morality, so let’s refer to ethics as E. Morality–or morals–are the inner voice inside of each of us that help us decipher right from wrong and are a learned stimuli to the environment we grow up in, known as our Moral Climate. Let’s call that MC. Since the combination of our both parents MC help create our E, you could say that E=MC2. (Are bad one-liners ethical?)
To put it another way, morals are the two little guys that sit on each shoulder and whisper into you ear when it comes time to make a decision. One is white, winged and packs a harp while the other is clad in red with horns, wielding a pitchfork and likely a Raiders fan. Both are full of advice, and when we know which one of these little guys we are going to listen to we have established our own ethics.
If an athlete takes steroids before it is established that they are illegal, has he broken the rules? If an extremely powerful and admired businessman plays the legal “Trump-card” of bankruptcy that takes money from the pocket of smaller less resourceful proprietors, is that good business? A good lawyer could argue both sides of either issue, but your inner voice knows the correct answer immediately, without the need for third party justification. The same is true in FF, where you know deep down the fine line between testing the rules and defying them.
Who originally set the standards for the ethics in FF? Since our founding fathers didn’t play much FF, the answer is that you and I are setting the standards. It is up to our generation to lay down the etiquette of the game by stating the obvious, as we learn it. Right now is the golden age of FF. While it is important that every participant allows the inner voice to guide him or her through the grey areas that undoubtedly arise, and it is up to us to discuss and create a new constitution of FF etiquette. Since Martha – the great etiquette advisor of this generation – just got sprung from prison and may be a little busy, we will take the more traditional approach to the explanation of acknowledged ethical bylaws of FF by laying down some good old-fashion commandments.
The 10 Commandments of Fantasy Football
1) Thou shalt not con. Never guide a less skilled player into drafting or acquiring a player based on false information. It is OK to withhold information that you worked for, but never OK to give out false information to cause them to err.
2) Thou shalt not collude. Collusion is widely considered the greatest transgression of FF. Never team up with another participant to use the resources of two rosters to create one team to win.
3) Thou shalt not covet thy competitors’ roster. Trade with integrity. It is OK to try and get the best deal possible, even if it strongly favors you. But do not withhold information such as injury or suspensions to get the players away from competitors.
4) Thou shalt not waffle. Do not make deals and then try to back out of them. Do your research before you agree to any deal, and stand by your decision once the handshake agreement has been made.
5) Honor thy commissioner. You joined their league so play by his word. If his word is less than trustworthy, find a new league the next season.
6) Thou shalt not steal. Pay the bill. If you are in a money league make sure you are paid up to league standards. If you can’t afford to pay do not join. If you find yourself trying to bend the rules because there is money on the line, there are plenty of free leagues that would welcome you.
7) Thou shalt think before ye smack. Talk trash to those willing to talk back. Nothing changes the spirit of a league faster than a poorly offered insult.
8) Thou shalt not quit. Joining a league is a full season commitment to competing. If you do not try to win every week, you have destroyed the balance of the league for everyone.
9) Thou shalt read the rules. Play by the rules, and ask your league commissioner if you find an area in them that could be translated different ways.
10) Thou shalt remember – it’s a GAME! The key to FF ethics, morals and etiquette is to remember that FF is supposed to be enjoyed. Games are fun to win honestly and still fun to lose honestly. But just like life, FF can be a bitter pill for all to swallow when the game is played without ethics.