Opening Day: Fortune launches ‘Fantasy League’

May 21, 2012, 1:19 PM UTC

Executives like to compare business to sports. They use sports terminology to describe their strategies and they quote famous jocks (Like Wayne “skate to where the puck is going” Gretzky). And business journalists and investors love to debate corporate victories and foibles almost as much as sports writers and fans enjoy bickering about their favorite teams. Seriously. Check out “Mad Money” on CNBC.

So it seemed natural for Fortune to find a way for readers to create their own imaginary rosters of real corporate executives — a sort of fantasy sport for avid followers of the business world.

The result, the Fortune Fantasy Sports Executive League, launches today.

Participants can pick their dream C-Suites from more than 90 of the world’s top executives representing nine different corporate functions. Ever heard about an executive change and thought, “that’s the wrong person for the job, they shoulda hired so-and-so”? This is the game for you.

The fantasy game is part of Fortune’s annual Executive Dream Team feature, in which the editors engage in a similar exercise. We ask the question: What would be the ultimate corporate management team? What group would be the business equivalent of the 1927 Yankees?

We purposefully set out to create a truly cohesive team. Our 2011 Dream Team consisted of executives from different industries; nonetheless we felt our roster would be able to work together (no outsize egos or lone wolf-types) and march into any troubled company and make it better.

The 2012 team likewise will be a collection of, well, team players. And under the rules of the Fortune league, the participants in the league will earn points based partly on how closely their teams match Fortune’s Executive Dream Team, which will be announced on July 26.

Participants also earn points based on how closely their picks match those selected by a pool of experts, such as management professors, top executives, headhunters, and other folks who spend a lot of time thinking about leadership. We’ll periodically publish interviews with those experts to explain the logic behind their picks. A tech CEO may have a completely different perspective on great corporate teams than, say, a manufacturing executive.

MORE: Field your very own Fortune Fantasy Executive Dream Team

We also took some, um, executive license. We moved some managers into categories different from the ones they occupy in real life. Ron Johnson, the new CEO of retailer J.C. Penney (JCP), is unproven as a chief executive. (He took the job at the end of last year.) He has a great track record at Target (TGT) and Apple (AAPL), though, for promoting brands and companies, and so he is among our candidates for dream chief marketing officer. Aditya Mittal is CFO of ArcelorMittal (MT), but a big chunk of his job is mergers and acquisitions and business development, so we moved him to the chief strategist category.

Running a big company, like managing a professional sports franchise, is harder than it looks. The Fortune Fantasy Sports Executive League gives the rest of us a little bit of a glimpse of what it is like to build a strong corporate team — while having a little fun along the way.

Play ball.