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Varsity merges with BSN Sports

Varsity merges with BSN Sports

New news from Varsity today — the company has merged with  Texas-based BSN, a marketer and distributor of team sportswear. See an excerpt from the official press release below:

Herff Jones, Inc. (“Herff Jones”) has signed a definitive agreement providing for a business combination with BSN Sports, Inc. (“BSN”). Dallas based BSN is a leading marketer, manufacturer and distributor of team sports apparel and equipment to institutional markets and team dealers in the United States. Under the agreement, BSN, the majority ownership of which is currently held by affiliates of ONCAP and Andell Inc., will merge with Herff Jones. 

“Through my career at Varsity, I was very familiar with BSN and was intrigued with the similarities between our cultures and our business approaches,” stated Jeff Webb, Herff Jones President and COO. “The BSN team has built a great company and we look forward to working with them as we provide our school customers and the young people served by both enterprises the highest level of quality and service.”

“We welcome the men and women of BSN to the Herff Jones family. Our companies share core values and a dedication to serving the people in our schools, communities and affinity groups,” said Joe Slaughter, CEO of Herff Jones. “The merger of these two outstanding companies is the next logical step in our efforts to meet the diverse product needs of our customers.”

“I can think of no better culture to align ourselves with than Herff Jones, which is an outstanding employee-owned organization,” added Adam Blumenfeld, BSN’s CEO. “I feel fortunate we have found a partner that not only complements our business, but also embodies our values and traditions.”

 

 

Eyes Off the Prize: All-Star Prep and Half-Year Teams

Eyes Off the Prize: All-Star Prep and Half-Year Teams

Are all-star prep and lower-level teams the future of all-star cheerleading?

Over this past weekend, hundreds of athletes converged on Walt Disney World for an epic cheer competition. Worlds? Not exactly. This year marks the debut of the Summit, a Varsity All-Star event catering to teams in non-Worlds divisions. Following a similar template to Worlds, the Summit awarded 107 paid bids and 355 at-large bids to more than 450 teams of all levels. “[The aim] is to allow some of the very best non-Worlds teams to compete head-to-head at one time and in one location,” says Varsity’s John Newby.

It’s all part of what appears to be a movement away from the ultra-competitive focus on Levels 5 and 6—and toward a return to the more recreational aspect of cheer. “So much emphasis has been put on the highest-level teams in the country trying to qualify and be part of Worlds that the majority of programs haven’t had the same opportunity,” adds Newby. “We think this [event] will balance some of the attention to only the highest-level teams and create some exciting new opportunities.”

Another recent development in this vein is the introduction of All-Star Prep, geared toward half-year and less competitive teams. USASF treated the 2012-2013 season as a pilot period for this new division, which is characterized by a shorter two-minute routines, a simplified tumbling category and a “no crossovers” rule. Currently non-sanctioned, the All-Star Prep division does not count toward a Worlds bid and is offered by event producers like Epic, CheerSport and Jam Brands.

“The prep division has really helped us because we can take inexperienced kids and give them a taste of competition without going the full gamut with a Level 1 or 2 team,” says Karlette Fettig, co-owner of Indiana Elite in Noblesville, Indiana. “[Gym owners] should be focusing on bringing kids in at a lower level because they’ll be the Level 4 and 5 cheerleaders one day.”

What’s driving this relatively new trend? In CheerProfessionals recent “State of the Union” panel, experts including Fettig attributed the shift to the economy. With many families struggling, all-star gyms must find ways to make their programs affordable in order to retain clients and continue to attract new athletes.

“This remains a very difficult economic time,” says Fettig’s co-owner Bethe Beaver. “Families have been forced to make some tough decisions, and we are very fortunate that so many of our families have been able to remain at the gym.”

Fettig and Beaver credit that level of retention to their introduction of half-year teams, a method that a growing number of gyms are using to get cheerleaders through their doors. These teams start later in the season (usually in December) and keep costs down by attending local competitions, choosing less expensive uniforms and not requiring matching practice wear. They also have lower tuition, but still receive benefits such as tumbling classes and clinics.

East Celebrity Elite is another gym finding a new niche through half-year teams. Owner Cheryl Pasinato believes half-year teams serve two main purposes: 1) giving children an introduction to all-star cheer and a taste of competition, and 2) ensuring there are athletes in the gym—even if they can’t make a full-year commitment. Pasinato knows all too well what it’s like to feel the financial pinch, as the state of the economy played a role in necessitating her gym’s merger four years ago. (And East Celebrity Elite is far from the only one—Beaver says that many gyms in her area have merged, taking the number of gyms within a 20-mile radius from 10 to just three.)

Both Pasinato and Beaver also cite another benefit to the half-year programs: the opportunity to develop relationships with local recreational cheer programs. “Throughout the year, we work with several local organizations and their recreational cheer programs,” says Beaver. “Typically, the feedback from the organizers and parents involved was always very positive, but we had been struggling to find a way to get them more involved with what we do. The half-year program seemed to be the perfect starter program for many of these families.”

Pasinato takes it a step further, often recruiting coaches to come coach East Celebrity Elite’s half-year teams. “We have a good relationship with the youth coordinators and a lot of them do encourage their kids [to participate in half-year teams],” says Pasinato. “A lot of them are very good coaches, and they’ve done a really good job.”

Of course, not all gyms are heading in this direction. Top Gun All-Stars, known to many as a “Worlds gym,” has taken some measures to make its younger teams more affordable—but co-owner Kristen Rosario says that change is due more to parents’ reluctance to commit to such an expensive sport before getting a full indication of their child’s interest.

“Other than that, we really have not made changes to our all-star program as far as pricing,” Rosario explains. “We did, however, decrease the number of out-of-town competitions [to which] we travel.” She adds that this still gives Top Gun teams plenty of opportunities to compete, as there is an “overabundance” of competitions from which to choose while still staying closer to home.

Regardless of their current direction, gyms are still providing many opportunities for young people to get into all-star cheer—from the more recreational focus to the strongly competitive bent. And they remain optimistic about the futures of their programs.

For Top Gun, keeping families invested is about providing a quality experience backed up by a strong legacy. “I do believe that the name that many gyms have built for themselves can, in fact, be some help,” Rosario says. “Obviously, if you’re going to pay for something that is as expensive as cheerleading, you’d rather pay for it in a place where you know that you’re going to get good training and see good results.”

For Indiana Elite, it’s about staying flexible and conforming to clients’ needs. “Bottom line—we are open to adding new classes and programs that we believe will benefit the families in our program and/or in our area,” says Beaver. “It is our goal to provide a program and an atmosphere that is positive for our team members and their families, and it is our hope that if we can continue to provide an environment that the kids and their parents like, then we will prosper.”

Industry Reaction to GrowCheer.org

Industry Reaction to GrowCheer.org

Yesterday’s announcement about GrowCheer.org and the push for an independent USASF sparked a range of reactions throughout the industry. While USASF has declined to comment on the matter, we were able to speak with Varsity’s VP of Public Relations Sheila Noone to learn their company’s stance. “Everything Varsity does is with an eye towards what is best for the young athletes we serve,” says Noone. “No one has more of an interest in growing all disciplines of cheerleading than Varsity, and we feel we have been a strong partner to the USASF and its members.”

Read a sampling of what event producers and gym owners around the industry had to say:

Independent Event Producers (IEP): The Independent Event Producers, IEP, was not consulted, informed or involved in any formation of this proposal. The IEP fully supports a proposal for a fair and transparent governing body. It is our hope that all constituents of the USASF have equal representation. The mission of IEP remains our focus today. Our main objective is to “collectively influence the cheerleading and dance industry, to promote independence and work to ensure our long-term viability in the industry.”

Dave Sewell (Extreme Spirit): Xtreme Spirit has not renewed USASF membership for the 2012-2013 season due to its Varsity control. We feel the current system is in place to maintain control over the Industy’s growth. We will follow the USASF rules, but with exceptions designed to help struggling gyms retain their higher level athletes and also showcase the advanced tumblers out there that are beyond Level 5.

Jody Melton (Cheer Athletics): This is a very interesting proposal that could potentially lead to some needed reforms for our sport. I like the group’s willingness to at least try to work with the USASF/Varsity to iron out some of the issues, rather than starting by creating a competing organization.

The USASF has given us many positive changes for our industry, and it simply would not exist without the leadership of Varsity and its employees, money, guidance and support. They should be applauded for their tremendous work over the last decade. However, it is time to take another look at the USASF structure to ensure that the entire industry is fairly represented. It seems obvious that no single individual, gym, program, company or conglomerate should have significant & permanent influence over our governing body.

There are obvious details that would need to be filled in and some questions to be answered, but on its surface – this looks like a potentially great way to help transition the USASF into an even better & more transparent governing body.

Scott “Crasher” Braasch (Cheer Tyme): I am a staunch supporter and critic of the USASF. I believe our industry has been served well by those in leadership and applaud all their efforts. Our governing body for the sport/industry of All Star Cheer is not just important to our continued growth, safety and structure—it is a must. For this reason, I have always supported the USASF and its mission. I have also been a critic of the USASF and its origins from the cheerleading industry’s largest vendor. As a huge supporter of Varsity brands, I respect and appreciate their financial and intellectual contributions to the origins of the USASF; however, I believe we have come to a point where USASF should truly stand and govern our all star industry independently. This letter shows a divide in our industry that has been developing for years. A governing body that is so closely intertwined with the largest vendor in our industry does not insure that all decisions made on behalf of the governing body are in its best interest, but rather implies that they are in the best interest of the vendor. What other format in our world today has a for-profit entity that governs or is perceived to govern a non-profit entity whose decisions reflect and/or could reflect the profitability of the for-profit entity? This proposal sounds fair and seems to alleviate reasons why so many question the relationship of Varsity Brands to the USASF. I look forward to the outcome of this proposal and sense yet another defining moment in our sport/industry ahead.

Megan and Casey Marlow (Pacific Coast Magic): Awesome concept. Awesome news!!!! Been in this industry for 15 years. So happy to see something truly moving and changing happening!

Chad Mulkey (XPA All-Stars): This is the best news that has been introduced to this industry since its inception. The stronghold has held back a SPORT that has grown tremendously. While Varsity can be thanked for its contributions for the inception, it is clear that this step is crucial as it grows. Excited, excited, excited!

Pam Swope (Storm Elite All-Stars): I totally agree!!! There should be NO company that controls the USASF – no more than the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is! There can’t be a company profiting from the use of a governing body for a sport to grow and thrive. MLB and the NFL are not owned by NIKE – so Varsity should not have control over the governing body of USASF.

 

BREAKING NEWS: Seven Industry Companies Unite to Urge and Facilitate USASF Independence

BREAKING NEWS: Seven Industry Companies Unite to Urge and Facilitate USASF Independence

CheerProfessional has learned that seven industry companies (Cheer Zone, GK Elite, GTM Sportswear, Motionwear, Nfinity, Rebel Athletic and Team Cheer) have united in an effort to facilitate the USASF’s independence from Varsity Brands. Their plan includes assuming the USASF’s loan from Varsity, revising the Board of Directors and moving the USASF office and employees to a neutral location. Read their full proposal and react in the comments section:

GrowCheer.ORG 

Proposal to the United States All Star Federation

GrowCheer.ORG is a group of unrelated industry companies with a singular purpose to grow the sport of cheerleading.

As such, we believe that the first (and most important) step in fostering future growth in our sport is a FREE and INDEPENDENT United States All Star Federation (“USASF”).

How are we going to accomplish this?

Central to our plan is to replace the current loan(s) that the USASF has with Varsity Spirit Corporation and/or affiliated companies (“Varsity”).

It is understood that the reason Varsity controls a majority of the seats on the USASF board and why Varsity owns the trademark of the USASF is to secure repayment of these loans.   We firmly believe that in order to have a unified industry, no single organization should be unduly influenced by and/or controlled by another.

We propose to assume the loan with essentially the same financial terms that Varsity has given to the USASF.  We are prepared to do this immediately after the 2013 USASF Worlds competition.

Other key provisions relating to our plan are as follows:

1)   Require an immediate external audit of the USASF financials by an independent accounting firm that we mutually agree on.  We will bear the cost of this audit.

  1. This firm would determine the amount that remains outstanding to Varsity.
  2. The firm would examine the relationship between the USASF and the IASF and confirm that all monies paid to the USASF by American gyms would be used for the support of American programming, not international programming.
  3. The firm would examine the relationship between the USASF and the host site to make sure only the USASF received benefit from the relationship.

2)   All USASF property held in lien as security for outstanding loans with Varsity, including but not exclusively intellectual property (i.e., trademarks), would be released to the USASF.

3)   Immediate rewriting of the Articles of Incorporation, By Laws, and Operating Agreement to abolish all permanent Board of Directors seats and create a provision for an organized election to be conducted as soon as practical.  The new Board of Directors would be composed of equal representation among all segments of our industry – gym owners/coaches, event producers and industry vendors.

4)   Future production of USASF World competitions would be granted to a qualified event producer after an open bidding process administered by the Board of Directors.

5)   The office and employees of the USASF would be moved to a neutral location in Memphis.  If necessary, we would subsidize payment for the office space until it could be supported by the cash flow of the USASF.

6)   After the first year, or as soon as practical, the Board of Directors would interview and select a professional management company to assume the day-to-day operations of the USASF.

7)   The USASF would be reorganized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is recognized by the IRS as such.

We believe very much in this industry and recognize Varsity for its past foresight and support, but we have come to a point where we can no longer afford to see our governing body indebted to and controlled by a profit motivated company with a clear conflict of interest.  In a time when so many are calling for the industry to break apart into separate factions, we feel that the best solution is to step in and provide a practical way for there to be just one, FREE and INDEPENDENT governing body.  And we believe that we have proposed a workable solution to this matter.

Your acceptance of the above terms is expected by March 1, 2013 to GrowCheer@gmail.com so that we can make provisions for a seamless transition.

Respectfully,

 

Cheer Zone ™

GK Elite Sportswear, L.P.

GTM Sportswear, Inc.

Motionwear, LLC

Nfinity Athletic LLC

Rebel Athletic ™

Team Cheer™

 

United States All-Star Federation, USASF, ISAF, USASF Worlds, Varsity are all Registered trademarks of the Varsity Spirit Corporation, Memphis, TN.

 

State of the Union, Part 2

State of the Union, Part 2

CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer leaders for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future. Following part one, read part two of our interview:

Safety is obviously a hot-button topic in the industry. What do you think will be the impact of the American Academy of Pediatrics report and all of the media attention on safety?

Dan Kessler of The Jam Brands

Kessler: Safety and kids’ health is more important than it’s ever been. Five years ago, we never talked about concussions in football—the awareness is much higher. And, as the sport of cheerleading grows, the more kids doing it, the more possibility for injury. Unfortunately, the Pediatrics report include all types of “cheer”—from rec and school to all-star cheer—so until we can define a clear separation between these types of cheer, there will always be that comparison. Going forward, our gym owners have to be [focused on] safety first, using proper progression and keeping kids to the proper level. Event producers rely on the coaches and owners to only put skills on the floor that the athletes can safely execute. The more we make our coaches smarter and more aware of safety issues, the better our industry will be.

Puckett: For the sport’s longevity, I think we have to keep a balance of good safety and good coaching. Some of the current [rule] changes were very necessary to keep the sport safe. In all honesty, if we push the limit too far and increase catastrophic injuries, it will destroy the sport. I’d like to see credentialing taken a step further and made mandatory to more levels.

John Newby, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Varsity All-Star

Newby: [There are] a lot of gyms doing it the right way—take those examples and have certified tumbling instructors. Education and training progressions and proper technique are paramount to the long-term success of our industry. That’s one of the areas of focus in the near future that we need to ramp up and continue to make the sport safer. The more we talk about ways to increase safety measures, the better off the sport will be in all aspects and disciplines.

There’s a lot of talk about cheerleading becoming a sport and even entering the Olympics. What are your predictions on that front?

Kessler: All-star gym owners need to be educated on the pros or advantages to being an Olympic sport and how it will help their business or create more cheerleaders. Will it change what they do in their four walls? A lot of these questions are not being asked of our all-star market, but are being told to our all-star market. The all-star market should demand more input into the growth of cheerleading, both nationally and internationally. Until we have these answers, there is no way to predict if this would be a good or bad thing for our industry.

Karlette Fettig, Indiana Elite All-Stars

Fettig: I think it’s a long way off. More countries are getting involved, but I don’t know that they’re at the level of competitiveness that the United States is. To me, there is a lot of work to be done before it’s an interesting enough sport to be attractive to the Olympics. They need to know that the U.S. won’t go out there and dominate every time.

Newby: I think it is an exciting thought, but probably years away from being seriously considered. International development of the sport is crucial and will make a difference of how quickly, if ever, this sport will be considered for Olympic competition. Time will tell.

How can our industry thrive in the future?

Pam Puckett, The Cheer Center

Pam Puckett, The Cheer Center

Puckett: Coaches are concerned that our routines are so jam-packed that [the sport is] becoming totally skill-based—taking the fun and flash out of routines. I think we might take a turn back toward adding the flair, either by adding time to the routine or cutting back the skills. That will be a tough transition, but it’s possible. Also, I think the types of events will keep evolving with new, fresh ideas like Jam LIVE! and Varsity’s Gameday Championship. It’s important to keep it exciting for kids and parents and keep people wanting more.

Fettig: Gyms are going to need to figure out how to make their programs attractive to more children so they can stay alive. I believe in 10 years, the industry will look different on the gym side. Larger gyms have grown over the last several years because of other small gyms closing. It’s become difficult for gyms to start up and be competitive against very large gyms of 500-600 kids. There will be a big dichotomy between a 700-kid program and 150-kid program. In 10 years, you’ll see a big spread between large and small gyms and not a lot of in-between if people don’t start trying to figure out how to get more kids in their door each and every year. That means focusing on younger, less skilled kids and getting them interested in the sport. I get that Level 4 and 5 is exciting to coach and watch, but you have to get more kids in at Level 1 and Prep in order to keep the sport going.

Kessler: All Star Prep. These divisions are about embracing the simplicity and the fun that got our sport growing to begin with. It’s not the you-have-to-get-your-back-tuck-NOW mentality—it’s more about making it fun, making it exciting and making the kids love what they do.  It offers the same athletic appeal but with less commitment and the same performance aspect.  That’s kind of what all-stars was at the beginning in the purest sense.

Our industry and the future of all-star cheerleading and dance can thrive if it is a positively regulated sport that is safe, exciting, accessible and competitive for the kids that participate. The kids have to have FUN! The environment must be safe, and the whole purpose of creating an all-star team of any type is to be competitive. In addition, the sport has to be both affordable and wholesome so as to assist parents in raising strong, healthy kids. We have to offer the same (or better) benefits than any other sport out there so that kids and their parents make all-star cheer and dance their sport choice.

State of the Union, Part 1

State of the Union, Part 1

CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer leaders for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future.

Pam Puckett, The Cheer Center

In your opinion, what have been the most significant changes or advances we’ve made in all-star cheerleading to date?

Puckett: The best thing that’s happened over [my] 16 years [in the business] is the USASF forming and having the NACCC to work with them—having guidelines to make us a legitimate sport and help all the companies keep things on the same page. It’s given us the structure we needed.

Newby: Worlds has had a huge impact, especially from a recognition standpoint. In some gyms, it’s become such a focus that it’s had some unintended consequences—kids and parents so focused on trying to find a Worlds team to be on, even if it means switching gyms. It’s like the NCAA tournament: you end up with 20 top teams that everyone knows, which you could equate to mega-gyms. For some, their primary goal is to make it to the big dance, and that exists for Worlds in some ways. It might be time to balance some of the attention given to high-level programs that are mega-talented. To address that, we’ve developed The Summit, a more prestigious year-end event geared toward teams that are in non-Worlds divisions. So far, the response to this event has been incredible.

What have been some of the setbacks from your perspective?

John Newby, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Varsity All-Star

Newby: Having too many divisions/levels/competitions leads to an overall lack of competition. Competition gets watered down and becomes more like an exhibition; teams get spread too thin. You end up with competitions across the country where you have a single team in one division not competing against anyone else. In the end, if we want all-star to be considered a sport, you have to measure your skills against teams of equal [level]. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

Kessler: As the sport got more competitive, many gym owners, parents and athletes said, “I want to be number one.” [In light of that trend], the Level 2 Youth athlete who enjoyed working on back handsprings was now pushed to be more results-driven. It became more about having to be successful for fear of losing kids to the gym across the street and less about providing a fun, athletic and educational outlet for the athletes. Kids started getting out of the sport and I feel a main reason was it wasn’t as fun for them as it once was. Cheer is the one sport that does not “cut” athletes.  We have a place for every child and we should embrace that more.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the economy and how that has affected—and will continue to affect—gyms?

Karlette Fettig, Indiana Elite All-Stars

Fettig: I think the economy is going to get much worse. Gyms really have to seriously look at how to keep their programs affordable. What we’ve been doing at Indiana Elite is trying to make programs in our gym affordable to more families. One of those solutions has been starting half-year programs. Also, along with national traveling teams and regional teams that go to surrounding states, we have teams that only compete locally and exhibition teams that don’t compete to keep fees down. It’s important to eliminate barriers to entry—if you’re a program that’s just doing large competitions and traveling, it’s very hard for families to afford that. Get them excited about cheer at a relatively inexpensive level, and once they understand what it entails, they’re ready to take the next step.

Puckett: Gym owners had to be more creative with their resources and not just count on children walking through the door; it became important to offer different things such as birthday parties and other activities. About three years ago, I saw some definite slowdown, but interest overall is increasing back upward. It’s partially the rebound of the economy, but also us being more creative. Our half-season teams have tapped into a whole different market, appealing to the beginning athlete and people coming from rec teams.

What trends do you see coming down the pike as far as events? 

Fettig: Whenever competitions ask for feedback, I press hard to give us what’s really necessary. Stop giving free giveaways, take out the extras and focus on what’s important—spring floors, raised stage (in some cases) and equipment in the practice room. All of the extra goodies are not nearly as important as quality judging and ample teams to compete against. We can forego the “lights, camera, action” if we get those two pieces.

Newby: At the same time gym owners and parents are feeling the pinch, event producers are under significant stress. Event producers are seeing increased expenses from the venues, as well as shipping and transportation costs. It’s a huge challenge to try to manage through these tough economic times and keep from taxing these parents and gyms. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple years digging into cost-saving opportunities. How important are giveaways and trophies and banners? It’s been a highly sensitized issue for us. We’ll do everything we can to manage our costs and keep from passing that on through the customer.

Any thoughts on judging and scoring?

Fettig: Our coaches have felt that in trying to work toward the grid and be more objective in scoring, they’ve taken out the ability to be creative in the routines. I believe event producers have to continue to develop their scoresheets so that there is a good balance between objectivity and creativity.

Newby: As partners with the gyms, the best thing for the industry in the long-term is a modified universal scoring system. It makes sense to me to move in that direction eventually, as long as there are some variables; some event producers can decide on whether the percentages are applied to pyramids and stunts. I think it will take time. It’s not an easy flip of the switch, but I know there are some really intelligent people who are talking about options to be considered.

Dan Kessler, The Jam Brands

Kessler: As the sport became more competitive and results-driven, coaches began asking for a more rigid scoring system. They wanted to know, “If I do this, will I score here?” They asked for less subjectivity and a scoring system that was more black-and-white—so this was reflected in scoring systems across the industry. In the past two years, there has been a new movement. Coaches are now asking for scoring systems to allow for more creativity. They feel the routines have become too “cookie-cutter” and they’ve lost their showmanship. Our industry is market-driven, so we have always listened to our customers. I think some coaches and owners believe that, as event producers, we just create our scoring systems without any input from our customer base. In fact, we do talk and poll tons of customers before we make any changes, as we understand that they are the ones that will really be affected.

We seem to be in an era of more USASF rules and regulations that are causing some divisiveness. What’s your take on that?

Newby: With any governing body, there are going to be conflicting and varying opinions on just about every issue. The organization is young, dynamic and still developing.  When all-star started, there were no rules or regulations, very little organization and few, if any, guidelines—it was the Wild West. Obviously, change is difficult, but necessary. You’re not going to please everyone, but the people working on this are in it for the right reasons and are looking out for the kids. A more unified set of rules has helped to make the sport legitimate and created a strong foundation to take all-star cheerleading to the next level.

Kessler: When you have more rules and regulations, that lessens your ability to be creative and entrepreneurial. We have to allow our sport to foster growth and be creative. If it becomes so strict that a gym owner says, “Man, I can’t be creative because I can only do XYZ,” how good is that? We always get compared to gymnastics—let’s stop being compared. Let’s be a fun sport that isn’t so structured and rigorous.

Fettig: I understand the concept behind the governing body wanting the image to be better for the sake of industry growth. But if you’re going to put rules in place, you better be able to police them. Otherwise it will just lead to a lot of bickering. If they’re not policing it, I’m not sure why it’s being put in place. What are the ramifications of not following [them]?

Read Part Two of State of the Union!

Expert Q&A: Varsity vs. Jam Brands Scoring

Expert Q&A: Varsity vs. Jam Brands Scoring

Question: Since different companies have different scoring grids, is there a way to compare them (i.e. a Level 2 Mini first-place score at a Jamfest competition of 79.950 and a Level 2 Mini first-place score at a Varsity competition of 54.36)? 

Jeremi Sanders of JAM Brands

Answer from Jam Brands Scoring Director Jeremi Sanders: Since different companies use different standards and rubrics to score teams, it can get complicated when trying to compare one event company to the next. Since scoring systems are mainly based on what is allowed per level, routines tend to be similar. The difference factors in when certain skill sets are weighted more or less from company to company.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for our Winter 2013 issue, in which we’ll have a feature story on various scoring systems and how they stack up — including interviews with Jeremi, Varsity’s Justin Carrier and more!