A couple of days ago, the nominations for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Board of Directors came out.  We will be electing eight new board members to go along with the ten that are currently seated.  We have done this more than 15 times and for the first time, we have a slew of high-powered, high-energy diverse candidates.  Almost all of them have the potential to be GREAT board members.  It is an honor to serve and one that I take great care with. 

To the right is the list of candidates taken from the ballot.  As you can see, if we started with all 21 of these people, we could have a nice well-rounded board of directors.  On this list are two of the most powerful people in fantasy sports currently as the heads of the daily fantasy sports movement; the most connected guy I know in sports; and arguably the person who brought fantasy sports mainstream with his work with MLB & NFL to get them to embrace the hobby in the late nineties.  A powerhouse of knowledge, experience and fantasy sports prowess there for sure.  There are also the incumbents who have done a ton for the board and many people won’t know how much without asking others.  Also, there is an energetic smart start-up mentality young woman with real fire and ideas from a different generation than the current board.  We also have the leader of the biggest content company, one of the leading technical minds, one of the top content minds and the product lead from the worldwide leader.  Holy CRAP! This is going to be IMPOSSIBLE to bring down to only eight selections.

So as I thought of this difficult task, I was brought back to our roots.  Come with me to Tampa, Florida circa 1997 when the Fantasy Sports Players Association (FSPA) was founded.  We were a motley crew of freaks and geeks who just wanted to share our hobby with the world.  Frankly, I am not sure I was part of the group that was pushing to start a trade association and more likely was like Forrest Gump and simply in the room.  An unsung and unknown hero was leading a lot of the conversations; a smart young woman from The Sporting News named Christina Schellhardt. Greg Ambrosius was in my opinion, the clear leader from the start, but she and Charlie Wiegert were right there with him.  Steve Byrd from STATS and James Serra from Fantasy Insights were there along with a radio guy who worked for me at CBS SportsLine and the first FSPA President, Carl Foster.  I don’t recall if Rob Phythian was at that first meeting, but every meeting after that I can remember, he was sitting right next to me helping me figure out what was going on.  He was a HUGE part of the early days with his then partner and now President, Paul Charchian.  

The FSPA (now FSTA) was created with the simple, broad and overzealous mission: “To raise awareness for fantasy sports worldwide.” 

In these 18 years since that day in Tampa, that vision has not changed much.  It probably should be slightly amended to say: To promote & raise awareness worldwide for Fantasy Sports through research, education, collaboration and special events.”

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

As Co-Chairman of the Membership Committee with a great guy, Clif Ma, I felt a strong obligation when the nominations were announced to figure out for myself who would make the best board members.  Unlike in the past where there was rarely more volunteers than seats, we have a real opportunity to take this organization and industry to another level. So, I am not telling anyone what to do, but only telling you what I will do in order to make up my mind since this is so important and so difficult.  One of the most important criteria for me in this difficult selection process is:


It has been this way for me since the organization began.  I left two great network jobs in my career to come back to the fantasy sports industry and even when I thought that much of the FSTA’s job was done, I stepped down as Chairman to work with the bigger companies to try to bring sponsors into fantasy Sports (look up Fantasy Sports Association from 2006-2010 if you want to see that work).  I would leave Fantasy Alarm if it was better for the industry.  The industry is first with me and I look for that in a board of director that earns my vote.

“Really? You think I’m a cop? A cop in a skin tight red and blue suit?”

Don’t be fooled.  Know who you are voting for.  The only way to know this is to get to know the candidates.  I plan to contact every member running and interview them or send a list of questions in email.  Find out what the candidate stands for.  I plan to write to the other board members and ask their opinions (rick@fantasyalarm.com if you want to reach out to me).  I plan to ask my friends, colleagues and those in other fantasy sports businesses.  I don’t want to find out that one of the new board members is out for themselves AFTER they have been elected.  I don’t want to get fooled by promises that they will dedicate themselves to fantasy sports when all they are about is the green paper that has been exploding in this industry.  What will I ask? Simple things will give you the right answers:

  1. What made you interested in being a board of director?
  2. How long have you been in the fantasy sports industry?
  3. How much time weekly can you dedicate to the FSTA?
  4. What other resources and experience do you have that can help FSTA members?
  5. What special skills do you have that will help you contribute to the FSTA?
  6. What specific initiatives would you like to get involved with at the FSTA?
  7. Anything else you want to tell me to win my vote and my influence on others’ votes who may ask my opinion?

“Secrets have a cost. They're not free. Not now, not ever.”

Now what?  You need to evaluate based on those answers how that fits in with the current board.  In some ways, we should want some diversity.  Who is on the current board and what interests do they represent?  There are nine other remaining board members and myself.  The chart to the left shows the remaining board members and their affiliations, role and accolades.  Now it is time to build a winning team.  Like all of you have built fantasy teams before, you need to have players who will fill certain roles.  You need people from big companies; small companies; entrepreneurs, rich people, hungry poor people, smart people, grounded people, conservatives, liberals and every sort of people.

So when I vote for which people to add to my fantasy team, I will take all that into account.  I will look at character.  I will look at role.  I will look at whether the industry is first priority and I will look at how that person fits into the make-up of the “dream team”, the fantasy team for the future of our industry.  So, like all members of the FSTA, I have an obligation to vote for the best candidates and not my friends or what helps Fantasy Alarm…so like George Stacy says with his last dying breath to the Amazing Spiderman…

"You're gonna make enemies. People will get hurt. Sometimes the people closest to you."