Are you ready for some football?? How do I deal with my employees’ fantasy football distractions?

Q.    Are you ready for some football?? I am not! I am getting ready for my business’ economic forecast to become deflated. All of my employees are obsessed with fantasy football. I understand that I am not in a league of my own. Fox News recently posted an article on a study concluding that Fantasy Football costs employers $16 billion per year (which is a 3 billion dollar increase from last year).[1] Is there anything I can do to tackle these gridiron fantasy fanatics besides hiring Terry Tate, the original office linebacker. [2]

A.     Perhaps. Interestingly, however, the study conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas (“CG&C”) noted that although Fantasy Football may cost employers billions and billions of dollars, cracking down would be so crushing to morale that it would actually cost businesses more. As a result, CG&C encourages companies to form their own fantasy football leagues to foster camaraderie. Of course, this also creates a host of other problems. Outside of the issues created by the improper use of a company resources, loss of company time, potential violations of an employer’s computer policies, and legality issues with respect to company-sponsored gambling, there is also the potential for harassment and discrimination claims. Indeed, there have been at least two cases in which fantasy football played a key role in employment-related lawsuits. In one suit, trash talk was the culprit when one fantasy football owner …er…employee made a comment referencing religion. The employee who the comment was directed at took offense. In another lawsuit, a female employee felt excluded because she was not invited to participate in the league (which was comprised of male employees).

So what is an employer to do? If you don’t mind losing more than the $16 billion already lost – crush morale and outlaw the leagues altogether. If, on the other hand, you want to utilize the opportunity to build camaraderie, make sure it is an all-inclusive camaraderie-building experience. For example, consider ways to ensure fantasy owners select work appropriate names and logos for their teams and remind employees/participants that workplace discrimination and harassment policies are not excused simply because it is fantasy football. Trust me, there is nothing fantastic about a lawsuit.

O.k……now that I am done drafting my blog, I need to set my line up. It should only take me a couple of hours…..My morning time entry will look something like this:  (Research player projections; inter office conference and talk trash with fellow owners; review league rules; review waiver wire; and set line up.  2.4 hours)



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