Building community: What I learned from my all-female fantasy football league

I’m really excited for football season this year.

I wanted to join a fantasy football league, but I was a little intimidated to. All my guy friends who play fantasy football are pretty intense about it, and I’m no expert on football. Sure I grew up watching the Bears and Steelers with my dad and brother (and still do), but when it comes to stats and players and OTHER teams, I’ll admit, I’m a novice.

I was talking to my friend about it, and she was also interested in doing a league, too and felt the same way. So we thought — why don’t we just start our own all-female fantasy football league?

So we did! I took on the commissioner role and we both went out to recruit. Our league has 8 ladies (teams).

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Meet (more ladies to the left) our female fantasy football league, Victorious Secret. Where draft parties consist of wine and pizza, and drafts are slightly influenced by how cute players are, and you are given a hard time if you draft Michael Vick because he hurts puppies.

Instead of structuring the league so that the only time we got together was for the draft, my friend thought we should get together throughout the season. This way not only would we be able to beef up our NFL knowledge and ask questions without being intimidated, but we would have a group of women to watch the games with — we’re all in it together.

And for me, that’s the cool part.

So I sent information about the fantasy football league to all the ladies. Everyone did a little research on their own before the draft party. They got tips from their fantasy football fanatic friends and brought their list of top players to draft. We all went in with some knowledge, but no one of us knew everything.

At the draft party, we actually missed our set online draft time. I started to freak out. It took a lot of coordinating just to get everyone in the same place at the same time, and now we couldn’t draft. What to do?

In a panic, I called my brother, who directed me to do a manual draft and gave me the basics. This way instead of drafting online, we get a list of all of the players and write down who picks who. A couple of ladies also knew something about a manual draft and so between all of us, we were able orchestrate it pretty well.

One of us put numbers in a hat to pick the draft order, another was in charge of directing the snake order; one of us sent out the list of players to draft from, another crossed off the players that were already drafted, and another sent out BYE week information so we didn’t draft players from teams that were playing the same week. We situated ourselves with laptops, wine, and pizza in the living room, drew names, and called out picks when it was our turn (followed by various bantering of who took their top pick).

We had a blast.

Being intentional about community

The whole experience so far has taught me a lot about intentionally building community. It also has me thinking about the power of shared vulnerability — and how that impacts community. What can happen when you share vulnerability with other like-minded people — people with the same level of experience and a matched desire to grow together? Fantasy Football is just another way or a means to bring us together and have fun, but also helps us grow. The competition between our teams will help us be proactive about learning, and meeting together will help us keep accountable.

Communities exist for all kinds of reasons; whether they grow because of shared investment, like a condominium community, or a shared value, like the Chicago Artists Resource. When any community is characterized by strong bonds within it, like the kind of bonds that come from shared vulnerability and commitment, it can become a significant and powerful resource for its members.

Here’s my question for you

What are you doing to be intentional about community? Where can you go to freely share and talk about struggles you are having with your business? Do you have that place where others can relate to you as a business owner? Where is that the-whole-is-bigger-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kind of community for you?

If you’re looking to get plugged in somewhere, EnMast is an online community of business owners and we’d love to have you. But if you’re looking for face-to-face peer advisory organizations, Vistage and TAB are also great places, too. And I also recommend checking out your Chamber of Commerce to find other ways to connect with other business owners. If you don’t have a community, find one!

How are you being intentional about community? Do you have a business community or group you belong to? How has that been for you; what has that experience been like?

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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