The Dos and Don’ts of Office Fantasy Football Leagues
Well folks, it’s that time of year again. As the NFL season kicks off, so does the fantasy football season. In case you are unfamiliar with fantasy football, NFL.com defines the process as when “you select from a list of the best players in the NFL and they compete on a weekly basis for your team”, and continues on to explain that “their on-field performance drives your fantasy point total and overall success”. In fantasy football, your carefully selected team competes against other fantasy teams in your league and the team with the most points at the end of the season becomes the league champion.
The FSTA (Fantasy Sports Trade Association) reported that in 2016 there will be approximately 57.4 million people in the US and Canada participating in fantasy sports, which has increased by nearly one million since last year. As it’s popularity grows, so does the popularity of office leagues as a way for coworkers to have some fun and get to know each other better. Before you dive into an office league this season, it is important to review the following dos and don’ts of fantasy football in the workplace.
Do: Include the whole office
As you begin to set up an office fantasy football league, it is important to be inclusive and invite all of your coworkers to participate. One way to encourage inclusion from the beginning of the season is to set up a live draft where everyone feels welcome whether they plan on creating their own fantasy team or not. With your employer’s approval, set up the conference room for the live draft so your coworkers can easily throw their jersey on after work and meet you down the hall for pizza and friendly football banter. Even if someone chooses not to join the league, inviting them to this event will give them the opportunity to get to know their coworkers better and create an inclusive atmosphere in the office.
Don’t: Exchange money
While many fantasy football leagues require entry fees and league dues that are awarded to the league champion at the end of the season, it is important that the members of your office league understand that they will be playing for love of the game and team building rather than money or other prizes. The monetary transactions that are often associated with fantasy football should be avoided not only because fantasy sport gambling is illegal in several states, but also because it can exclude coworkers who are uncomfortable with gambling. The real prize in your office league is increased employee retention and productivity which results from building relationships and bonding with the people you work with.
Do: Keep banter friendly
As seen on popular TV shows like “The League”, trash talk is an inherent part of many fantasy football leagues. However, it’s best to avoid trash talk and insults in your office league. Trash talk can lead to coworkers feeling uncomfortable, ostracized and even harassed. A little friendly banter between coworkers in the break room is acceptable, but make sure that your friendly banter stays friendly throughout the season.
Don’t: Play during work hours
The purpose of office leagues should be to increase productivity over time by encouraging relationships and teamwork; therefore, it would be counterproductive to decrease productivity by focusing on your fantasy team rather than your work during business hours. By waiting for your break or lunch to check on your team, compare results with coworkers, make trades, and calculate points, you can show your employer that you can have a successful office fantasy league without sacrificing productivity.
Do: Plan events throughout the season
In the spirit of using fantasy football to boost morale in the workplace (without sacrificing productivity), plan after work events throughout the season. Weekly Monday Night Football at a local sports themed restaurant is an excellent way to encourage team building without causing a distraction during work hours. It will also be much easier for you and your coworkers to make it through Monday knowing that you have a fun evening planned.
Take these dos and don’ts into consideration this fantasy football season, and use your office league to build relationships with your coworkers that will translate into a positive and productive work environment.