December 18th, 2009

Let’s Sort Out the Issues in Fidelity Firings

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I suppose it’s inevitable that some readers of the “Fidelity fires four over fantasy football” story will skim it and come away thinking a few slackers got canned because they were wasting work resources on a pastime.

The fact that those of us who make our livings in fantasy sports lambaste the company over the move probably won’t do a whole lot to alter such misperceptions, but it’s important to clarify just what the issues are here and who’s upset about what.

Frankly, there’s nothing really wrong with a company taking action against an employee who instead of spending time on actual work is meandering around the Internet, chatting incessantly on the phone with extended family or even managing three fantasy football teams. Each business is more than welcome to set it’s parameters for Internet and phone usage and similar activities, and any worker who blatantly violates such rules should expect consequences — no matter how much the office culture might shrug off such rules.

In letting go of four Westlake, Texas, workers, however, Fidelity did not cite losses in productivity. It blamed the moves on the connection it drew between the employees and gambling. Specifically, Fidelity identified fantasy football as gambling.

No matter how you feel about fantasy sports, that’s just plain wrong, and it’s not really even a lingering issue. It has been three years since the United States government officially wrote into law that fantasy sports don’t qualify as gambling in this country.

So, when an outlet such as Reuters chooses to tie the Fidelity story to the fuzzy, attention-seeking numbers of the Challenger, Gray & Christmas studies to forecast an approaching storm, it is missing the point entirely.

We could certainly counter any argument about fantasy sports being bad for the workplace with opposing evidence about them connecting co-workers, but that’s a moot point in this case.

Fidelity said four workers were gambling by playing fantasy football and needed to be purged for that reason. Fidelity was wrong.


FSWA Award Nominations Due by Dec. 31

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Christmas isn’t the only deadline sneaking up on us.

For any fantasy sports writers out there, the Fantasy Sports Writers Association is taking nominations for 2009 awards up until the end of this month (via this online form).

According to FSWA president Mike Beacom, all submissions will be screened by the FSWA’s board of directors, with finalists passing on to an “independent panel of judges.”

Nominees must be members of the FSWA, which you can join before the end of the year to become eligible. The awards presentation — in its sixth year — will take place at next month’s Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference in Las Vegas.

The categories include …

Football Writer of the Year
Football Article of the Year, Web
Football Article of the Year, Print
Football On-Going Series

Baseball Writer of the Year
Baseball Article of the Year, Web
Baseball Article of the Year, Print
Baseball On-Going Series

Basketball Writer of the Year
Hockey Writer of the Year
Golf Writer of the Year
Racing Writer of the Year
College Sports Writer of the Year
Fantasy Humor Article of the Year, Print or Web

Check out coverage of last year’s winners: