Fidelity fired four employees in October for playing fantasy football. And yes, I really did want to see how many F-words I could use in the title (without even having to use the F-word, if you didn’t notice). I just love alliteration.
While many of us daily contemplate how many hours of our day we will have to spend reading fantasy football research and waiver wiring potential sleepers before our bosses finally realize we haven’t filed a TPS report in over three months, all these employees had to do was play. They didn’t even play in the office.
They got caught because the company intercepted instant messages about how poorly Trent Edwards was playing and because one of the captured fantasy footballers ratted out several of the other leagues (banning himself from the league for life in the process, I am sure).
It’s one thing to be caught talking about fantasy football, but talking about terrible Buffalo quarterback play? That’s a national pastime in some parts of the country, Buffalo mostly. How can you punish a man for that? For simply stating how nice it would be if someone actually made Lee Evans and Terrell Owens worthy fantasy plays?
Cameron Pettigrew, the identified victim of the Fidelity firings and no relation to Brandon Pettigrew, got the real grilling from investigators when it was discovered that, believe it or not, fantasy football was happening in a corporate environment.
According to Pettigrew, he was questioned by two company investigators for an hour and a half, where they wanted to know everything he knew about fantasy sports at the Westlake site. “They were insistent upon knowing about everyone involved, especially leadership, and whether those persons even mentioned a league,” said Pattigrew. [sic] “I kept thinking, ‘All of this over a $20 fantasy football league?’ ” (via Fanhouse)
Has Bob in accounting ever mentioned fantasy football? Because I really can’t stand that guy. He stares at me over the wall of his cube, and he never lets me get away with charging my hotel movie-on-demand purchases to the company account.
The whole story is just a little sad. How can a company really consider fantasy football equivalent to gambling? And if they do, why not fire all the employees that participated? Instead, they only fired the commissioners, the people that were go-getter enough to organize a league in the office in the first place.
If they were more open to the idea, Fidelity actually might benefit from allowing employees to play fantasy sports. After all, wouldn’t we get the same satisfaction destroying Bob’s chance at the playoffs as we would getting him fired? And he’s probably right about that movie-on-demand policy anyway. At least if you beat him in fantasy sports, you get to see his sad face in the hallway for weeks…and weeks.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association identified the good that Fidelity is missing:
Additional research commissioned by the FSTA via Dr. Kim Beason at the University of Mississippi indicates that:
54% say fantasy sport participation increases the camaraderie among employees in their workplace.
37% say fantasy sports participation is a positive influence in their workplace.
16% say fantasy sports participation has allowed them to make valuable business contacts.
Business contacts? Positive influence? Camaraderie? All good things to most companies, but apparently, the proliferation of a widespread (and noble) hobby within the office was too much for Fidelity to stand, too dark a behavior to embrace. But at least it wasn’t being practiced by anyone in upper management, right?
Interestingly, Pettigrew says he never played fantasy football before coming to Fidelity. “Last season I was approached by one of the managers who asked that I be in his league. I knew vaguely about the policy at the time but figured that if a manager was involved than the rule was probably just something of an outdated law, like how it’s illegal in Michigan for a woman to cut her own hair without asking her husband first.” (also via Fanhouse)
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Women can cut their hair in Michigan without asking their husbands? What kind of forward-thinking mumbo jumbo is that nonsense? Women should not be allowed to cut their hair without the approval of a jury of their peers. And dyeing their hair? Changing the color is just plain banned.
Fidelity, from what we can only assume from thorough research, doesn’t allow any employees, male or female, to cut their hair without the permission of their manager.
I guess it’s safe to say that I’ll never work for Fidelity. Too bad.