February 15th, 2010

Personal Profile: John Zaleski

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Name: John Zaleski
Nickname: Dr. Z
Job title(s): Owner
Full-time in fantasy? Since 1991
Age: 50
Education: BA in Marketing - Long Beach St.
Family status: Married 26 years with 3 kids, ages 21, 21, 13
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Baseball and Football
Favorite sport to watch: Hockey
Favorite team (any sport): Ducks and Angels
All-time favorite athlete: Teemu Selanne
Years playing fantasy: 26

I got my start in the fantasy industry when: The Original 1984 Rotisserie League Baseball Handbook came out. I started organizing work and fraternity leagues the next day.

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes:
1986 — Started “California Fantasy Sports” organizing So. Cal. leagues.
1988 — Changed name to “Ultimate Fantasy Sports” and went nationwide.
1989 — First of many Owners Conventions in Las Vegas
1990 — Started “Lifetime” Leagues where owners keep all players on their team from year to year.
1998-2000 — Co-Host Of Fantasy Fever Daily Internet Radio Show on Sportsline.com.
1999 — One of 12 founding board members of Fantasy Sports Trade Assocication.
2000 — FSTA Football Broadcast Award Winner
2001 — UFS Baseball Park Tour treated customers to games in 14 cities in 45 days with stops at Hall Of Fame venues in Cooperstown and Toronto.
2001 — Nominated for FSTA Lifetime Achievement Award
2002 — FSTA Executive of the Year Award
2002 — FSTA Small Business of the Year Award
2008 — Fantasy Factor Partners founded.

Three questions

1. You started your fantasy sports business before there was really anything we could call an industry. What made you believe success was possible in this space?

I started “fantasy” games in 1968, creating leagues playing “All-Star” baseball by Cadaco. I also created games in all sports combining a deck of cards with player stats. When I started UFS, I knew there were millions of sports fans with a passion as deep as mine, and I am not surprised at where the industry is today.

2. There aren’t many folks who can speak to the difference between running games before and after the dawn and spread of the Internet. How would you describe it?

Having a Life. Night and Day. Seriously, we started before FAX machines, and I remember leaving weekly reports on an answering machine and rotating the league reports each week. A 16-line, $25K voice-mail machine made the timeliness of lineup submission and league reports much improved until we went to the Net in 1997.

3. What makes your new venture, Fantasy Factor, different from other weekly/daily fantasy models hitting the market these days?

There are more than a dozen features that we feel make us better than the current models.

The “factor” style of game leads to more strategy than a salary-cap game, and it takes a minute to create a team, instead of the 10-15 of a cap game.

We guarantee action/prizes even if a league does not fill.

The website/game app is one of the best to ever hit the industry and was developed by one of the best interactive agencies in the U.S.

The rules of the game are simple, challenging and fun to play.

Bonus: Can you name the first players you ever drafted in each fantasy sport?

No fair!! That was 1984!! Let me go fire up the old AppleIIc. I’ll get back to you …