ODR Blog: ODR, by any other name… Part IV: Serious Fun

Around the holidays, we all promise ourselves things such as self-improvement and behavioral changing. For the past few years, I’ve been promising myself a simple promise: To find something fun, which I really enjoy doing – and to take it very seriously.

 

I haven’t been successful with this. And, I’m not too hard on myself – I really like my day job that much.  Still, my recurring failure does leave me envious of people who are dead serious about the things they do for fun.

 

This ODRBlog, continuing my ongoing hunt for service providers offering ODR-like services flying beneath the radar of the ODR community, will focus on two dispute resolution service providers, focusing on… fun. Serious fun, but fun nonetheless. People argue over things they are passionate about, and people’s passion for fun leads to disputes no less serious than any others. These folks are just a click away, waiting to help.

 

The first service provider is Fantasy Judgment, offering dispute resolution services for fantasy sports participants. If you don’t know what fantasy sports are, or why anyone would fight over them, you need to catch up on what’s hot. In a nutshell, fantasy sports involve sports fans participating in a league, in which teams they create play against other teams in the league. These teams, ‘owned’ by participants, include players from many different real-life teams, playing together in fantasy world. Each particular fantasy team’s achievements are based on the real-world achievement of these players, each playing for their real-life team.

 

Fantasy Judgment offers dispute resolution across a wide range of fantasy sports, including fantasy football, fantasy baseball, fantasy basketball, fantasy NASCAR and more.  

 

The need for fantasy league dispute resolution is explained thus:

“Over the last decade, the fantasy sports industry has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of prosperity, innovation, and participation. However, fantasy sports leagues are only governed by a set of rules written and enforced by a league commissioner who is also likely a league member. Most times, the statistical services that run fantasy sports leagues are of no assistance in implementing league rules or settling issues that arise. That is where we come in.

Whether there is a question over the validity of a trade, interpretation of one of the league's rules, or an issue comes up that has never been addressed before, you need an unbiased, independent decision-maker to settle your dispute. Fantasy Judgment is comprised of a 5-person panel of judges with a wealth of fantasy sports experience and professional backgrounds that enable us to settle all disputes in a timely, judicious manner. We guarantee a professionally written opinion within 24 hours of receipt of your dispute. So don't ruin your fantasy sports experience with a fantasy dispute - instead, resolve your issue with a Fantasy Judgment.”

 

Fantasy Judgment offers to arbitrate fantasy sports disputes for a flat fee of $15 a pop; alternatively, you can by a ‘season’s ticket’ for $100. The means for submitting and disputing a claim are very simple: One enters their own email, their opposite’s email and a summary of the dispute into a few simple fields on a form and clicks to submit. PayPal payment information is entered at this stage.  The respondent has 24 hours to reply, after which the Fantasy Judgment ‘Bench’ promises to return a decision within 24 hours. According to the website’s ‘Due Process’ rules, “The judges will analyze the issues set forth and supporting materials provided. Based on the evidence provided and the expertise of the judges, a decision will be rendered and a written opinion will be generated in support of that decision.” That decision is final.  Based on sample decisions shown on the site, decisions are written in a legalistic style and go into great detail, including citation of precedents.

 

The second service provider dedicates efforts to settling disputes regarding one of the most popular games ever, online and offline: Monopoly.

 

Ken Koury is a Los Angeles based attorney, with a general civil and business litigation practice He also acts as general counsel to a number of small and medium sized businesses throughout the state and internationally.

 

Ken is also a passionate Monopoly player, with over 25 years competing and coaching at the national and international levels (Yes! There are official Monopoly tournaments!). He sometimes coaches the official US Monopoly team for Parker Brothers. And – that’s right – he also arbitrates Monopoly disputes at a distance over the Internet.

 

What is a Monopoly dispute? If you need to ask, you’ve obviously never fought with your brother over whether, indeed, “ones are thousands”; whether you get $500 for rolling snake eyes; or whether a third consecutive double, landing you on Free Parking, entitles you to the money in the kitty before you go off to the slammer. In fact, one might say, these little arguments are what give the game some of its time-tested flavor.

 

However, sometimes these disputes seem intractable – or the players are just that serious. Ken tells me he has been settling Monopoly disputes at a distance for about 30 years. While he used to receive cases by fax or by letter, he’s been receiving them at a rate of about a dozen cases a year since the Internet took off.

 

Ken’s process is simple: Parties contact him with a situation arising in a game of Monopoly, played at private or charity events. Sometimes, he is contacted by one party seeking to use Ken’s decision as ‘evidence’ in a Monopoly dispute. Usually, however, parties contact him together, in an email containing both sides of the story. Generally these letters describe the parties’ agreement to accept Ken’s judgment as final.

 

Ken doesn’t need board-shots, video recordings or any other supporting evidence to assess a situation – he’s more or less seen it all. He arbitrates the case presented according to the official rule book as well as precedents set by rulings at national or world competitions.  He never finds himself mediating cases – his familiarity with the rules enables him to give a well-based decision in any case presented to him.

 

Ken relates that he rarely hears from parties afterwards, beyond a simple thanks. Parties don’t argue with him or contest the verdict elsewhere. And, with good reason: When someone has so much expertise in his field, and is willing to share it with fellow enthusiasts, free of charge – why go elsewhere?

Happy holidays, everyone! How are you going to have fun this year?

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