Commissioners Quandaries – The Deadbeat Owner


There is at least one in every league, no not a commissioner. The guy who insisted they had to be in the league but has since become a non existent deadbeat owner. Whether it be a co-worker, a high school or college buddy, brother in-law, or neighbor, it can be a difficult matter to deal with. As a commissioner it can be advantageous to have a plan in place to deal with questionable owners from the onset of the startup draft. But lets be realistic after you have assembled a group of people to start a new league the last thing on anyone's mind is what should we do if owners go AWOL on their teams.

As the person running the league you essentially have the ultimate say on what happens with an owner that can't stay on top of their team. Its just a matter of whether you want to take a hard ass approach and lay the law down, or take a more passive approach. Or possibly using a combination of both. There are multiple ways to address the issue as I will outline, but kicking someone out of a dynasty league should only be used as an absolute last resort, unless it involves collusion there is no grey area there.

The three strike approach is a popular one, where as the name implies an owner gets three strikes, regarding trade offers being ignored, lineups not being set, IR violations, Survivor and Pick em picks not being input, or taxi squad violations. Quite often upon the third strike a late round rookie draft pick is removed from that owners team, and further offences result in subsequent draft picks being revoked. I like the three strike method when used with a little leeway, it's just as easy as the commissioner to send a quick text or email asking an owner to pull an injured player out of his lineup, or take the healthy guy off IR, than it is to give them a strike or post a message on the message board. Obviously if the owner still doesn't fix whatever violation you requested them too, then it may be time to start dishing out strikes.

Another way to deal with the issue is the hard line approach. Some commissioners prefer to act like dictators and would rather call out a questionable owner or even remove them altogether after a minor offence, or first offence. If your a no BS kind of commissioner that doesn't have time to babysit the owners in your league that are only moderately interested, then punishment or even banishment may occur a lot sooner than after the third offence and that is totally understandable. You signed up to run a fantasy league not babysit a roster that isn't your own. From my past experience, leagues with very strict rules and harsh punishments rarely succeed long term. Lets be honest we have enough rules, regulations, and repercussions in life as it is, we don't need to get carried away with that in fantasy football.

Now its been a couple of years since your startup draft and the same owner is still proving to be an ongoing issue. Where do you go from here? This is when it may be time to start looking for a replacement owner, as long as it can be done without disrupting the league. To avoid running an orphan team obviously your going to want to have a replacement owner in place before dropping the hammer on the deadbeat owner. It's always best to talk to your league mates to get their input on the matter prior to notifying the problem owner to ensure you have league support. Chances are if the owner has been an issue for a lengthy period of time the majority of the other owners will be happy to support you in removing the problem from the league.

In the fifteen plus years I have commissioned leagues, I have had to remove a handful of owners for various reasons, each time providing its own set of issues. In every league that I have had to remove an owner I found that even though the replacement process seems like a big deal at the time it turned out to be a very small bump in the road in the grand scheme of the league. And each time the league was significantly improved as a result of the problem owner being ousted.