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Integrity Of The League

Kevin writes in with a question:

I had a thought about what "Integrity of the League" means to different people.  I have been told that this doesn't exist and you win at all costs (screw everyone else) and I have been told that this means a great deal, especially in pay leagues. So my question is...what does "Integrity of the League" mean to you?

Integrity can mean a lot of things, even when applied to fantasy leagues.  Are we talking about a moral code?  Honesty?  A lack of hypocrisy?

This is similar to a post I wrote in September, The Fantasy Baseball Code Of Honor.  To have integrity, here are the requirements for the league:

  • The commissioner does not abuse his power in any way.  The commissioner is probably the only person who can cheat without pairing with another person in the league.
  • No collusion.  The second a team decides to help another team, integrity is lost.  And it doesn't always have to be the last place team helping a contender.  Maybe a team is running away with first place and colludes to help a friend get second place.
  • The half-baked idea of league members voting on trades never made sense and encourages self-serving votes.
  • Gray area: in a perfect world, the league wouldn't have an owner who gets pillaged by smarter owners.  If your league does have a dumb guy, is it wrong to swing a lopsided deal with him?  I lean toward no, but it does make me uneasy.  I feel similarly about a person quitting on a league - I hate that, but it's more an issue of competitiveness than integrity.
  • What about lying?  Say word hasn't spread much that your pitcher is out with Tommy John, so you quickly swing a deal to get rid of him.  That seems to cross the line beyond gamesmanship.  But other lies are part of the game - being coy about whether you like a player, for example.
  • Streaming?  It's never bothered me.  If the league rules allow any annoying strategy, the league was set up poorly.  I can't think of any reason that any type of roster move would lack integrity.  Picking up a guy and then dropping him immediately just to put him in waiver limbo?  Haven't tried it, but I'm OK with it.
  • Talking smack is OK to a point...most of us can tell when the line has been crossed.  It's up to the commissioner to diffuse those situations.
  • Going back to Kevin's question...I don't think it should be "win at all costs" - there are things you shouldn't do to win a fantasy league.  For example, slipping a laxative into his drink at the live auction.  But, every team should be focused on winning the league and hopefully having fun, operating within boundaries that are pretty much common sense.

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