I know I said I would never do this.......but leagues keep opening and they suck, since leagues will keep opening, they may as well be good. This just might help. I would rather you all didn't open leagues at all, I will explain why in this document. Enjoy!

How to run an online league.

This will undoubtedly promote even more leagues to open, but since they will open anyway, I guess you may as well know how to do it right.

The main things you must adhere to before you even consider opening a league:

-You only get one shot at this. You get only 1 chance to gain your GM’s respect and confidence. It is extremely hard, if not impossible to get good GM’s in another league if your 1st one fails.

-Plan, Plan, Plan. There is no question this is tops. If you do not know your league inside and out before you even start looking for GM’s, your league is over before it began. You should give your league at least a week or 2 before you open it. Lack of planning is the #1 league killer.

-Be prepared for hard times. It may seem like commissioners have it easy, but you will have to deal with most whiney, snot nosed little buggers you have ever dealt with. There is almost no exception here, you must have patience to run a league.

-Consider not running a team in your own league, if you have to, take the last team open. This is a tough one for most people, sometimes it is hard to be interested when you do not run a team. On the other hand, it will allow you to focus primarily on the league. There are also a lot of advantages commissioners have. They have to the most active, so they pretty much get to be in on everything, especially jumping on trades that are offered. They decide when the free agents can be bided on, so really, one second after they open it, they can bid on who they like. Now, not every commish does this, but it is an unfair advantage, and no one should have an advantage. There are a lot of small things here that they have control over, and the best leagues would be the one run by a commish who takes the time to run a great league for the joy of running a great league, and not because he just wants his favorite team and can’t get it anywhere else. That is the #1 reason people start leagues, and they die very fast.

-You are in control of the destiny of the league. Here is another huge league killer….too many people are in charge of too many things. One person does the website while another sims and another does some other medial task, etc, etc. Power struggles arise and people lose interest. If you, the one commish, cannot handle every duty on your own, do not even attempt a league. It is advisable to have help, but do not rely on them. If you have no web skills (website building), don’t open a league. It just doesn’t make sense to open a league on the very thing you have no skill at does it? The Web.

-Activity…….if you are not already the most active person in your league, then it is done. The commissioner has to be accessible to everyone in the league. This means you must have msn (or whatever messenger your league uses) and be on it! Your people will have questions, and you must be able to help them. It takes serious time to run a league. This is not something where 1 or 2 hours a day will do. Be prepared to put in 5 or 6 solid hours a day into your league, on sim days and 4 on off days. If you cannot think of something to do in that time, you are not trying hard enough……something can always be done to help your league.

I am hoping this scared away at least 9/10 people (but I doubt it, most of you will undoubtedly make another bad league, while few will succeed, why? Because most people aren’t aware of their own inability to handle responsibility.), but for those who are remaining……here is the steps to building the league.

Step 1
Name your league. This will give it its identity, so make sure you pick a good name. Make your league rules….this is important, plan ahead and be prepared. The best way to do this is to read some of the rules from lots of other leagues, make notes. You shouldn’t steal anyone’s rules, but make your own based on the structures from the many good leagues around. Some solid suggestions here are:

All of these leagues will give you some variety in the structures you will want to work with for rules. They are well thought out and well prepared leagues. Again, do NOT steal their rules, make your own based on the ideas. (Unless you have permission).

Step 2
Browse around and look for some good web hosting. I can’t stress enough how important it is to not build your site on geocities, it has no bandwidth and your site will constantly be unavailable. Geocities is ok if you know how to do good html, but really, the best thing you can do is get your own domain. More people really should get a domain, it is great to have, and they aren’t as expensive as you might think either. If you get yourself a domain with a decent name, it will be flexible and you can use it for much more than just your league. Here is a great link for domains: http://www.ipowerweb.com/ this is what Fhockey is on.

Don’t get a domain that is the name of your league, because after that, it is really only for your league and it will have very little practical use for anything else.

You will want a really good amount of storage for your site and files and lots of bandwidth in order to allow downloading without crashing your site all the time.

Step 3
Decide how many sims per week you will do. How many in game days will be involved? This is something you have to know. Set up an email account for the league commissioner. It is best to set up a new account for the league and not use your personal email.

Step 4
Create your website, start by making a banner, the whole site should be based around it. The banner is the true symbol of your league and should be the first thing you do before even attempting a website. In your banner, try to use 3 base colors. If you cannot decide on a color scheme, use some online tools, like this: http://www.boogiejack.com/colormach2.html

This handy little device even gives you the html code for all the colors. Mark them down somewhere!

Once you have your base made for colors, you are ready to take on the website. Start with your main page and then make the extension pages. This should take you at least 2 days to do properly. If you think you can do it in less, then you are either really good at making pages or naïve.

Your website should have all of the following features:
- Game File with a date beside it for last update.
- A GM list
- League Rules. This should be written in full before you begin.
- Transaction, News, Rosters, Scoring, Standings, Calendar. All of these things can be found in your html file when you export the html from the game. To get the Transaction and news, simply go into your leagues save folder and find transaction.tpl and news0.tpl copy and paste both of these files to your desktop and change the .tpl to .html, there you have 2 new pages that can also be used on your site.
- A link to your message board.
- A Links area.
- Spots for player of the week, player of the month and rookie of the month.
- Link to your league chat.
- Contact info. This is so important, lots of league make the mistake of not supplying this in plain view. It is hard for people to join if they do not know how to contact you.
- A link to Fhockey.com. This isn’t just to promote fhockey, it is actually useful for your GM’s, they can learn what they need to know here and you don’t have to answer every little question. This is most easily achieved by placing this button on the site and linking it: http://www.fhockey.com/fhockey.jpe

To use the .html files you exported from the game, upload them into a folder on your server, for example, if the league website is at www.league.com and you put the .html files into a folder named html then each file would have an extension like this:
www.league.com/html/transaction.html Get it?

Step 5
Choose your boards. This is so important, a lot of the important things will be on here, too many leagues move boards too often. Proboards has popups, invision is always down, if you have your own domain, you can use phpBB, these are very reliable. They can be found at http://www.phpbb.com/ you need to install these boards on your domain using mySQL. It is rather tricky, but once you do it once, you will know what to do.

Make a chat room too, this is most easily done by creating a room at http://chat.cjb.net then it can be accessed with mIRC as well. Say you name the chat room league chat, then the room will be at http://chat.cjb.net/leaguechat/ it will also be accessible with mIRC in Mirc-X at #leaguechat. Pretty easy really.

Step 6
Begin your league file. Here is a trick, download EHM 1.15b to a different folder, like ‘my documents’ and then 1.16 to another directory, like create one on your desktop and 1.18 to your normal directory. Why? Well, get all of the update files you want (on the fhockey site) in one zip, extract them into all 3 games. Open your new league with 1.15b, this will give you the best results on ceiling lines etc. Save the game and move the save game folder to your 1.16 folder, this is where you should allow the game to be updated. During the season, the game will auto update stuff, let 1.16 do those sims, to know when this happens, check the EHM 101 section for the EHM year. When you want to sim games in season, use your 1.18, it has the most up to date stuff, and won’t allow for Euros to be signed outside of the window.

If you wish to use just 1 version, stick with 1.16.

Check and double check each team 1 by 1 to make sure that everything is in order, you don’t want mistakes to be spotted later.

Put all of your teams on human control to begin, do not sim any days. Make your settings for the league and save the game, put it away for now.

Step 7
Upload your file and test all of the links on your website. Once this is all done, you are actually ready to start looking for GM’s. Post about your league on Fhockey.com forums and start telling people you know. The file should be uploaded to your main directory, so if it called league.zip, and you league is at www.league.com then the file would be at www.league.com/league.zip

As each GM joins, add them to the file, by placing their name in the GM box for each team.

Step 8
Review everything! It doesn’t matter how solid you think you have it, there IS a chink in the armor somewhere, I guarantee it!

Items to know:
1. How to do sims………..
First thing is first, start on your boards, do all the free agent offers, then trades, close each of these things on your boards as you do them so you will know what you entered, do not delete them in case you have to redo it. If you have chosen to do closed free agents (advised) then you may put this off until after the trades are done. Once all the stuff on the boards is done, it is time to enter everything sent to you by email. Do one email at a time and enter all of the info for each team. There are some problems that are common that you may run into……..some teams may not have enough players to complete lines, if this happens just hit auto lines for them. Some teams will send lines and then make a trade, this will make the lines they sent in invalid……just put the teams next best available player in the open spot. If there is lots of open spots, then auto his lines. This is what you get for not updating when you make a trade.

After you have put in each teams lines, make sure you confirm them, this will save you from having to do this later. Once everything is entered, then you can start simming. At the end of your sim, save the league, export your html and close the game.

Big Note: Take your time on sims. There is no rush, you aren’t racing anyone. It is best to take your time when you do them! If you rush your file, you will make mistakes.

Note on staff offers: do not enter them and then save the game and close it, if you do, you will lose all staff offers. These must be entered before you sim ahead in order to work, to see why, go to the EHM Bugs section on EHM 101.

2. Interaction………
There is nothing more important than talking with the people in your league. Not just about the league, but also about them, get to know them, these people are your associates. The more at home they feel, the longer they will stick around. Do everything possible to foster GM involvement.

3. The offseason………..
This is where a lot of commissioners burn out. There is a lot to do in this short amount of time. This is also pretty much where you start out when you begin. There is lots of trading and lots of free agent stuff going on, plus the draft coming up.

The draft isn’t too hard, you can do it so that everyone sends in a list of players they want at each draft position they hold, this is good if it going to be live or not. If it is live, just get everyone into the chat at a certain time and have the game open at the draft screen. As each team posts their pick in the chat room, enter it. It is also nice if you have an assistant commish or co-commish posting the picks as they happen round by round in the forums.

Free agency is something that lots of people do differently, put lots of thought into it and make a plan, this will come to you quite easily if you are prepared.

4. Make sure all expectation in your league are clear, this should be done when you do your rules, no patience is the best amount for bad GM’s.

5. Try to do sims often, 3 or 4 times a week, this will help maintain interest in the league. Also, consider a league design that stresses parity and GM competition. You must always make sure that you are the one who is happiest with the rules. Some commish’s are too lenient and change things to make the GM’s happy, it is their responsibility to read the rules before they join. If they don’t like it once they join, then why didn’t they read it before hand? It is ok to consider good ideas and allow the league to run with the contributions of its people, but you have to remember one important thing……..
people will always try to make it sound like they are doing YOU a favor by being in your league when you are the one running it and making it happen.

In some cases the GM really is doing the commish a favor though, if your league is bad, so really, this is probably where these things come from. It is good to have extreme prejudice when selecting GM’s for your league.

6. You really want to change as little as you can about the league once it has started, rules wise. You know things aren’t going well if more than half of your league has a problem with something, these are things that you can consider changing….but the world does not revolve around one or 2 GM’s.

For the most part right now, I would like to stress that I do not want you to open a league. There is more than enough already and most of them are just crap. There are some very good ones too though, and they can’t find enough people because the crappy leagues have the people. Do not contribute to the over saturation of the community with your garbage. There is 1 or 2 who will do well, right now you are thinking…”I will!”…..you better be aware your chances are 1 in 10, no matter how good you think you are.

I can't tell you how peved I get when I hear a league is mass mailing people or posting on someone elses league boards without permission to try and advertise a league, this is simply spamming and the wrong way to do things. If you want to recruit people, you must take time and effort to have a personal approach. You have already spent countless hours preparing your league (I hope) so you may as well take the time needed to get the best possable people for your league.

One of the first things you do is remember, other leagues have a right to privacy, you must treat all other leagues the way you want your own to be treated. Send individual emails to people, not mass mails, but individual ones addressed to each person personally. No matter how you look at it, posting on someone elses forums without permission if they are not public forums is spam. Or, you can add people to your msn list and talk to them all personally. This is a simple recruitment proccess that takes time and effort, but it can pay off when done well.

A personal person to person email is not spam, but if a recipient of your email tells you not to email them again, you must follow their wishes, any subsiquent emails following that one IS spam. Fhockey has a very specific 0 tollerance rule now on spamming, for details, see this post: http://www.fhockey.com/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=783