Working Paper No. 09-16:
Let the Preseason Begin: Want to Play?

Author(s):

Ross Davies

Date Posted: March 2009

Availability:
Abstract (below) | Full text (most recent) on SSRN

Abstract:

During the first session of the 111th Congress (Jan. 6-Oct. 30), the Green Bag will be working out the kinks in a new project: FantasyLaw. We are looking for a few test subjects to help us - to share the joys of playing the beta version of FantasyLaw. If you know (or would like to know) enough about both the federal legislative process and traditional fantasy sports to enjoy leading a fantasy league in which the stars have all been elected to serve in the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, this might be for you. Please read on.

The basic idea behind FantasyLaw is to enable law fans to treat federal legislators roughly the same way sports fans treat major-league and NCAA athletes. In short:

  • several friends or colleagues (each of whom will become a team "Owner") get together to form a "League" of teams;
  • each Owner selects (normally via some sort of draft) a group of federal legislators (the "Players" who will be on a "Team") who the Owner believes will score well on a set of performance criteria (statistical and perhaps other measures relating to the Players' work) compiled and processed by an impartial "Administrator" that provides support for many Leagues (for FantasyLaw, the Green Bag is the Administrator);
  • the Owners select either one of themselves or some other trusted friend or colleague to be the League "Commissioner" - that is, the person responsible for (a) dealing with the Administrator on matters such as registration of the League and its Teams and issues with the reporting of Player and Team performances and rankings, and (b) facilitating the resolution of disputes among the Owners in that League;
  • the Commissioner submits the required paperwork and payment to register the League with the Administrator;
  • the Administrator periodically posts Players' statistics - and the resulting individual and Team fantasy scores and League rankings - in a format that enables each Owner to (a) track the performances of his or her Players and Team; (b) make roster decisions - who to drop or add, who to trade, and so on; and (c) talk trash to other Owners in his or her League;
  • play continues through the "Season" - in FantasyLaw, a regular session of Congress - with winners in each League announced with great fanfare at the end.

If you have ever participated in a fantasy league, this is familiar territory. However, one feature of FantasyLaw (other than its sources of players and performance criteria) will set it apart from the typical fantasy enterprise: the lengths to which the Green Bag will go to protect the identities of Owners. There is a good reason for the emphasis on secrecy: Some prospective FantasyLaw Owners are people who would enjoy the game, but who will (upon mature reflection) be willing to play only if they can be quite confident that their identities will remain secret.