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Building League Camaraderie: The art of communication

Fantasy football should be fun. It should be a great way to spend time with and keep in touch with friends. @CoreyEasterday takes a look at the the first of the 4 C’s: Communication

Welcome to my very first article as a contributor for the legendary Dynasty Nerds! I’m excited to be part of such a talented group and look forward to going on this journey with you. Having played in all types of leagues, including my beloved home dynasty league (more on that later), it’s safe to say I love fantasy football, and I am a nerd through and through. In fantasy sports, “you play to win the game” (shout out Coach Herm), but to me, what is equally if not more important is creating a quality league experience. It’s all about capitalizing on the opportunity FF gives you to build friendships with others who share the same passion.

Building camaraderie and creating a quality league experience in a dynasty format is especially important because you could be in a league together for a long time! Now, we’ve all been there, you start or join a league full of excitement, only to see one or more managers not participate much or even drop out entirely. No fun, right?! What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if each member was committed to league domination AND developing great friendships at the same time?

Obviously, not every person or league will totally click, and that’s ok. People get into FF for all kinds of reasons, and not everyone is interested in developing friendships with their league-mates. However, since the community aspect of FF (and especially dynasty) is one of the biggest reasons I love to play, I decided to make that my focus in this first series. Whether you’re in a league with complete strangers or your best friends, I’m going to cover the Four C’s for getting the most out of your league experience: Communication, Creativity, Community, and Competitiveness.

This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, and for those of you who are fantasy veterans out there, I’m sure you have a ton of insight to add. In fact, I would love to hear what your league does to build camaraderie (hit me up on Twitter @CoreyEasterday).

Let’s dive in and start with the ever-important and first C: Communication!

Picking Your Communication Platform

Since this is my first series of articles, I thought it would be fun to do some crowdsourcing (thanks for the feedback!)

One of my favorite responses to this prompt came from our very own Keith Ensminger (@TheSmilingDynasty):

“Absolutely 100 percent must have a league chat set up before the startup draft, whether it be using GroupMe or Slack.” – Keith

If you’ve been playing FF for any length of time, this may seem like an obvious part of building a league. Still, it has been my experience that not every league puts a lot of intentionality into selecting or even having a central communication platform. I believe that great communication and the platform your league chooses (or lack thereof) can make or break the experience. So it’s essential to focus on this as a key part of building your league.

I mentioned in the intro my beloved home dynasty league. It’s the league where I started my dynasty journey! I and some of my best friends (including the one and only @DynastyPrice) are part of “The Brotherhood Dynasty League.” I wanted to reference this league because I will use it to help explain my perspective throughout this series. The BDL started in 2013, and one of the core things that’s kept us connected is the Brotherhood Group Text. Like Keith pointed out, this league chat has been vital to not only the continuation of our league but the growth of our friendships.

When it comes to choosing the communication platform for your league, there are tons of great options out there. In no order, you have platforms such as GroupMe, Slack, good old-fashioned group text, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Discord, the chat in fantasy apps like Sleeper, even a new wave of communication platforms like Clubhouse and Spotify Greenroom – the options are truly endless. You just want at least one central place where everyone in the league can get notifications, share memes, hilarious GIFs, instant reactions to the insane trade that just went down, discussions about league rules, etc. It should be user-friendly and easy to understand for all involved. Now, how you communicate with other managers in your league on that chosen platform is a different topic entirely.

Manager to Manager Communication

Photo Courtesy of fantasycouch.com

A lot has been written on this subject, so I don’t want to be too exhaustive here. This response to my tweet got me thinking about some general things I try to practice to when it comes to interacting with fellow managers:

“Always thank someone for an offer, even if it’s trash. Also, privately compliment each manager when a trade is executed. People like trading with nice managers” – Tommy

I like Tommy’s comment because it illustrates a really important part of your league’s communication. Whether it’s the group chat, trade negotiations, etc. – interacting with other managers in a positive way matters. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trash talk or that you have to approve of every draft pick, trade, etc. (Good-natured trash talk is very important to a great league experience. In fact, the longer you’re in a league together, the more clever and savvy the trash talk gets!). What it means is keeping in mind that you’re in a league with other humans, and you can never go wrong treating others with respect while still having fun. After all, aside from winning your league – having fun and developing friendships is a big part of why we play.

Trading (especially in Dynasty) is where a lot of manager interaction takes place. While I haven’t always been the perfect trade partner, I try to follow a few best practices. I try to at least acknowledge each offer I receive, respond in a timely manner (this is relative because we all have other responsibilities), start a dialogue with the other manager, ask questions to understand their perspective better and make sure we are on the same page for how much time we both have to decide. We don’t have to come to an agreement, and I can think their offer is ridiculous (and vice versa), but I try to remember that, like myself, they simply want to better their team’s situation.

I mentioned how vital I think trash talk is to a fun league experience. Since this game is super competitive and we are all trying to win the championship, you absolutely want to make sure there is a good amount of trash talk in your league. It should be written into FF law that your league’s group chat should include consistent hilarious GIFs and memes, trash talk, reactions to trades, breaking news, emojis, etc. (there’s nothing I love more than a well-timed GIF!). The league chat is basically the place where it all goes down – the good, bad, hilarious, you name it. The chat can also be where you share big life updates, exciting personal news, etc. Ultimately, if done right – the communication within your league will either develop existing friendships or help you start new ones.

Staying Connected

Photo taken during our second ever BDL Rookie Draft in 2014

There is one last aspect of league communication that I’d like to discuss courtesy of my friend Karl on Facebook:

“The league is a way for us to remain connected despite our geographic separation. Those of us who are able to draft in person do, while the others Zoom or call in, and we have a text thread throughout the season for trash-talking, football news, and trading block feelers. Despite the distance, it seems like we know each other and that we are able to talk and connect as if we were in the same town.” – Karl

I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio (Go Browns!). Three years ago, my wife and I made the move to the Charlotte, NC area. It was my first time moving out of state, and I wanted to stay connected to loved ones back home. One of the key ways I’ve been able to do that is through FF and especially the BDL. That league has been such a key part of my life for so long, I’ve routinely made trips back for Rookie Drafts, Super Bowl parties, you name it.

That’s the beauty of technology, choosing the right platform, having overall positive communication, and doing your best to stay connected. I completely agree with Karl about how the distance can disappear, and you can still feel like a part of the group even when you’re drafting over Zoom. I’ve never felt any less a part of the BDL since moving. If it weren’t for technology, I would miss out on so much. League happenings, the inside scoop on how my league-mates value certain players, who is on the trade block, reactions to NFL news, etc. Again, while that isn’t how every league is, I believe that’s the type of thing all leagues should aspire to—helping each other stay connected through a shared love of the game no matter where life takes us.

The cool thing about how much FF has risen in popularity is the endless ways to construct a league. There are so many incredible, fun, and creative leagues that are constantly innovating. I believe in the magic of FF, so it’s my sincere hope that all of us who love this game can continue to build camaraderie with one another and our league-mates, whatever that looks like.

Thanks for reading my first article! Stay tuned for my next article, where we cover creativity and some of the unique ways that leagues add an extra element of fun. Be sure to hit me up on Twitter (@CoreyEasterday) or comment below with how your league builds camaraderie!

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