Interview with MN Fantasy Sports Expert Michael Kibort

In 1980 a group of baseball enthusiasts met at a New York City restaurant called La Rotisserie. They created a game wherein they could “draft” Major League Baseball players onto imaginary teams, which would compete against each other using the players’ real-life game stats. This is widely regarded as the birth of fantasy sports as we know it. Today, fantasy sports is played by upwards of 32 million people in the U.S. and Canada and accounts for $3-4 billion in economic activity per year. While fantasy leagues exist for almost all major and semi-major sports, fantasy football has become easily the most popular. Temple of Aaron’s Rabbi Jeremy Fine interviewed a fantasy sports pioneer on personal sports site Below is his interview.
It’s Sunday, and while I am at physically at Religious school teaching kids, myself and many of the parents are mentally (or actually) checking and securing their fantasy lineups. It’s football season; not much else matters right now, sports-wise, unless your baseball team is still alive or you grew up in a college town. A while back I met a guy at Camp Ramah named Michael Kibort. He wore a Randy Moss jersey while I wore a Brian Urlacher jersey, but otherwise we had a lot in common. We have been friends ever since, although these days it’s usually through Facebook because Michael isn’t just playing fantasy football, he’s living it. Here is an interview with a Minnesota kid living out the fantasy football reality. The Great Rabbino: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Michael Kibort: My name is Michael Kibort, born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Went to school at UW-Madison, die-hard Vikings and Badgers fan, as bandwagon as it gets with the rest of MN sports. I’m single, decent looking, witty, charming, hysterically funny, and have an above average jumper. Also a life-long Jeremy Fine fan.
ds_logoTGR: How did you get involved with DraftStreet?
MK: One of my closest friends, Mark Nerenberg, had the idea about 6-7 years ago. I didn’t hear it until mid-2009. He was an options trader at Citi, and I was running a retail/salvage business in Minneapolis. Neither of us were in love with our current paths. I knew the idea had legs, and knew exactly who to get involved with from a business/tech perspective. Called my close friends from Wisconsin, Brian Schwartz and Jeremy Elbaum, to pitch them the idea. They were living in New York, working in digital media, and were perfect for this kind of project. A few months later, we’re incorporated. My fancy title is Chief Operating Officer.
TGR: What exactly is DraftStreet?
MK: DraftStreet is a fantasy sports website that offers daily and weekly cash leagues instead of picking your team for the entire season. This lets players compete almost instantly without the fatigue of a long season. Users draft a team of real world athletes and gain points based on the scoring rules on the site. In addition to traditional snake drafts, DraftStreet also has Salary Cap and Pick ‘em leagues to add additional variety to the product offering. Salary cap gives you a set budget to spend on your team (with each player given a value depending on how well they are expected to perform). Pick ‘em gives users the option to pick various players based on a tiered system, which is simpler for beginner players.
TGR: What makes DraftStreet different than its competition?
MK: DraftStreet prides itself on offering the largest variety for players, including three draft styles (Salary Cap, Pickem, Snake) and various leagues and games (survivor, daily/weekly, and championship events) for all major sports. Salary cap games are most popular, and our salaries are the most effective salaries for players. Our algorithms dictate salaries based on what the individual player is likely to produce during that scoring period. In addition to the product itself, our management team is the perfect mix of background/skills, really knowing what our customers are looking for from a user experience perspective. Essentially, what I’m saying, is that I put together one hell of a team.
TGR: Where do you have (Jewish football player) Julian Edelman on your draft board?
MK: I’m more of a Kenbrell Thompkins guy.
photo (8)TGR: Favorite Ice Cream in Minnesota?
MK: EASY – Sebastian Joe’s Oreo.
TGR: What is next for DraftStreet?
MK: We are constantly focused on improving our product. This currently includes expanding and improving our mobile offering, adding new site features, game formats, and tools for our users. One of our main focuses, aside from increasing our marketing initiatives, is targeting DraftStreet to appeal to the casual fan.
TGR: Where can everyone find DraftStreet? Head over to We are running a promotion all season. You sign up for a free account, and are automatically entered into a 1 week fantasy football league with $1,000 in real cash prizes. On December 15th, we will be hosting our 2nd annual DraftStreet Fantasy Football Championship event in Las Vegas. First place for the Championship wins 1 Million Dollars! Here’s a link with information on the event and how to qualify:
Thank you to Michael and DraftStreet. Check them out and win that cash. And Let Us Say…Amen. – Jeremy Fine