Global drafts and flag football leagues: how Chicago tech is getting into football this fall

Andreas Rekdal

Friendly competition is great for company culture, and what better time is there for friendly competition than football season? Whether you’re a serious fantasy player who follows the preseason religiously or more of a social autopick player, an office-wide fantasy league offers ample opportunity for lunchtime discussions — and some companies even bond over recreational flag football leagues.

We checked in with four companies that make the gridiron a part of their culture to learn more about their football-related traditions.


Chicago digital marketing agency Rise Interactive doesn’t hold back when fall rolls around. The company lets its internal fantasy football league use monitors around the office as weekly leaderboards and hosts an elaborate get-together to celebrate the winner at the end of the season.

“It’s not uncommon to hear a little friendly competitive banter about fantasy football around our office,” said Associate Director of Employee Services Lindsay Dagiantis. “Last year, our office-wide ‘Survivor Fantasy Football League’ competition kept everyone on the edge of their seats week after week as they watched their NFL picks compete throughout the season. As the playoffs approached, we kept employees in the loop with a weekly leaderboard on our in-office monitors.”

“When it was all over, the winner sat back and claimed his victory with the coveted Fantasy Football trophy,” said Dagiantis. “We also held a chili cook-off to mark the end of the season and celebrate the big championship game. This year, employees are organizing competitions around the office, stirring up excitement for their favorite teams. Additionally, we encourage Risers to show off their spirit right here in the office with our annual professional and college spirit days.”


Since its employees are distributed across time zones all over the world, Strike Social’s Chicago draft party had a number of competitors dialing in via webcam to witness their colleagues’ excitement or dismay. The league’s team names are riddled with ad jargon and local office pride: think “Notorious CPV” (cost per view) and “Thrilla in Manila,” which is run out of the company’s office in the Philippines. It also has a running Skype group chat for discussing football matters — after hours, of course.

“The friendly rivalries that develop in the office make it a very unique work relationship dynamic,” said Account Director Dion Dimiropoulos. “We are going to get a perpetual Strike Social Fantasy Football League trophy made so that each year we will be able to add the winner’s name. At the end of the day though, we are playing for office bragging rights — since that is the ultimate prize.”

“We have plenty of first-timers in this league, so they are quietly asking advice behind their opponents’ backs to make sure their lineup is set,” added VP and Head of Client Services Andrew Selby. “My advice? Don't underestimate those who claim to (or actually) know nothing. These few seem to luckily dominate, at least in the early season! I'm coming for y'all!”


At an office with seriously dedicated fantasy football players, joining the league can be a little intimidating for casual fans and non-fans simply looking to get in on the social element. Chicago healthtech company GoHealth has its own strategy for ensuring that the tradition remains accessible.

“At GoHealth, several fantasy football leagues are organized to help include any employee interested in playing, and there are a number of traditions,” said Director of Consumer Marketing Mark Colwell. “In one free-to-play league, the winner is awarded a Marshawn Lynch trophy filled with Skittles. In others, prize money is at stake. Some even celebrate a well-fought season by going out to a sports-themed lunch after a champion has been crowned.”

“There’s a lot of football talk around the office during the week about surprise performances, season-ending injuries, and attempts to sniff out each other’s waiver wire strategies and potential trades,” Colwell added. “As for trash talk, we keep it respectful. But we’re a competitive bunch, too — we like winning far more than losing.”


Fantasy football is all well and fun, but Chicago recruiting technology startup Yello takes its football traditions to the next level. Every fall, the company’s employees get together for some friendly football games of the non-fantasy variety.

"In the early days of Yello, employees got together for the Turkey Bowl, a fall tradition held around Thanksgiving,” said VP of Talent Acquisition Heather Redisch. “The Yello teams braved the chilly Chicago weather to play an informal football game and for some friendly competition."

"Since we've grown in recent years, Yello has expanded our fall football tradition to a weekly flag football league. Every week, Yello employees across all departments head to the field after work; our team has a winning record this season and we have our sights set on that championship ring!" she added.

Images via featured companies.

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