Posted on 11 September 2008 by admin
MeetScoresOnline (MSO) is America’s premier website for club gymnastics scores for men and women. Gymnasts, fans and parents race online to MSO after every meet, generating over 15 million visitors over the past seven years. MSO is an indispensable tool for those interested in scores. There is no better way to research the historical archives of scores since MSO began keeping stats.
It is very easy to find your gymnast or particular meet with MSO’s robust search engine. You can access a gymnast’s entire history, and you can further define the search by his/her age group and level. If you are looking up a particular meet, you can even single out events to see who had the highest scores.
Historical comparisons are fascinating. With MSO, a young level 5 gymnast can research how older, successful gymnasts scored back when they were level 5s. This gives young gymnasts such encouragement when they see that even the older gymnasts they now watch winning meets also went through struggles and learning curves.
Yet not all clubs and organizations take advantage of MSO, despite its great reputation. This boggles the mind. Stats freaks would love to be able to research all scores in one central repository, rather than sift through the arcane maze of various other sites. Incredible as it seems, there are some clubs and organizations that don’t post scores anywhere.
A recent classic example of the power of MSO took place at the 2008 Region I Men’s Gymnastics Championships, held in Reno, NV. MSO was able to post real-time scores, enabling the families and friends of gymnasts who were unable to attend the meet to nevertheless follow the instant results.
StickItMedia recently had the pleasure of chatting with MSO Executive Director, Del Ruiz:
SIM: How did you come up with this brainchild?
Del: The credit for the idea belongs to Dan Witenstein of the Arizona Sunrays. Dan wanted to post the results of his annual Sweetheart Invitational on the internet and he asked Karl Stubsjoen for help. Karl decided to take the concept and make it interactive so that you could query the results. Karl developed the software and needed someone to promote his application to other gyms. That is the role I play, and how the website, MeetScoresOnline.com (MSO), was born.
SIM: What is your background in gymnastics?
Del: My daughter was a gymnast. I use the past tense as she just graduated from Kent State University where she competed for four years. Professionally, however, I specialize in launching new products and that has been my contribution to the MSO partnership.
SIM: Would you like to see mandatory posting of gymnastics scores? If not mandatory, could there perhaps be some sort of pre-season agreement from all the clubs, states and regions?
Del: Mandatory posting is not necessary. When we launched MSO in 2000, very few gyms were using computers for meet scores, and that is one reason MSO’s special offer from Insight Computers to get more clubs to purchase computers on credit was so successful. Now it is almost impossible to attend a meet that does not use some sort of computer program to gather their results.
The first year, less than a dozen gyms posted their results on MSO, and eight years later almost every major invitational uses MSO. As for getting a pre-season agreement in place, some of that is already happening as there are states and regions that have standardized practices for using MSO. Our next goal is to encourage smaller gyms to use our website. MSO believes that no club is too small and no meet results are unimportant.
SIM: Why do you think there is such a disconnect within the gymnastics community regarding scores?
Del: There are several reasons. First is a lack of understanding of how routines are judged. Several years ago we ran a series of workshops for parents on finding the elusive college scholarships, treating minor injuries and the most popular one was understanding how judges score. Another reason is that scoring is so subjective. Donna Payne, co-owner of the Phoenix Gymnastics Academy, validated this at a meet when her girls were scoring in the low 8s, and still won the meet. She pointed out that these were the same gymnasts that had scored in the high 8s and low 9s, the previous meet. Of course, it does not help that the powers that be keep changing scoring. If the average fan does not understand how a routine is scored as a 9.8 out of a possible 10, what does a 15.4 mean?
SIM: What is MSO’s long-term strategy for attracting more clubs and organizations?
Del: MSO wants to continue our software so that college coaches can track the results of the individual gymnasts they are interested in recruiting. We have recently released an on-line registration capability. The hardest part of this new application has been keeping it simple so that anyone can use it, but also ensuring that it can interface with sophisticated programs such as ScoreMaster.
Two ideas under development, which are meeting with resistance from the gymnastics community, involve allowing gymnasts at meets to see their placement in the standings at any given moment during a competition, and the other one is to use MSO to determine which judges need more training. These are radical ideas, but so too was the notion of inputting the scores using key pads and eliminating the need for runners during the competitions.
The advantage MSO has is that our true fans, the gymnasts themselves, are computer literate. It is interesting to think that today you can find the club scores of college-level competitors on MSO. Soon these competitors will be coaches and eventually own their own gyms. This is great for MSO in particular, and for gymnastics in general.
MSO not only publishes scores. Each year, they rank the nation’s top men’s and women’s club gymnastics teams, and they will soon announce the nation’s top club gymnast. If you have never visited MSO, please do so. Seeing is believing!