Join the Office Fantasy League

Several years ago, I was starting a new job after having been laid off at a previous one. My boss approached me a few weeks after my start date to tell me about an office dynasty (fantasy sports) league that had been running for ten years. A few teams were dropping out that year and the commissioner, another co-worker, was looking for replacements. Would I be interested? I politely turned him down, having little interest in closely following professional sports and thinking that fantasy leagues were dumb. “D&D for jocks,” I was fond of repeating.

That was a stupid decision, and here’s why1The following reasons notwithstanding, do you know how hard it is to get into a longstanding, well-run dynasty league? I had no idea. I don’t have time to play anymore and I still pay the annual fee to keep my spot. Also, I figure I should give back after winning twice in four years. #notsohumblebrag:

Social activities are an opportunity to build rapport. There is a reason why offices allocate budget towards team-building exercises. People who get to know and like each other outside of work tend to work better together. How is that beneficial to you? If you build a rapport with someone, that person is more likely to do favors for you. Social activities are where you build that rapport.

You want to join in-groups. They say that friendships are a mini conspiracy against the world. Well, office cliques are a mini conspiracy against the rest of the company, department, and so on. Naturally, it is advantageous to be on the inside.

Is this unfair to people on the outside? Probably, but that’s life. If you can’t beat ‘em (and no, you cannot beat the human inclination towards tribalism), join ‘em.

Fantasy leagues give you assets. This is particularly important early on in your career or a new job when you might not have much else to offer. If you’re an intern at a large corporation, a senior director is not likely to have any reason to speak to you. But what if you’re rostering a player that he wants? Different story. It works in reverse too – a trade offer can be an excuse to start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to reach out to.

By now, I’m sure you’ve realized that these benefits are not limited to office fantasy leagues. If a bunch of your coworkers go rock climbing every Thursday, I suggest you invest in some chalk. I don’t care if you have zero interest in rock climbing. I didn’t care for cricket either when I interned at a bank’s finance department.2 The samosas on the other hand… At least go a few times. And if you truly cannot stand the incumbent office hobby, persuade them to join you in a new one, find a new job, or accept that you’re limiting your career.

Thankfully, my boss asked me again. And again. And again. Finally, he said he wasn’t asking and that I didn’t have a choice. Looking back, my boss did me a favor by making me join the league. Not only did I receive the aforementioned benefits, I raised my esteem in the eyes of my coworkers when I won the league in a photo-finish.

Photo: Timothé Lejeune

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