Fue buena

2 enero 2011

SteveG, a website, the legend

Filed under: General — Jorge @ 23:12

(This is a quick translation from the previous post)

The tennis world, or a part thereof, is shocked. It means the end of an era. It is no exaggeration to think that even Federer and Nadal are aware of the news, and maybe they feel sad, no matter how relaxed they looked in that court laid on water in Qatar.

Last night in San Pablo, a late mindless chat with a Canadian colleague, Kamakshi, from Tennis.com.

«I read your 2010 overview,» she says. «What’s up with SteveG? I didn’t get that part.»
(Online translators are not thourough, I should set up FueBuena in English, this post might be a beginning).

«Steve is leaving the site. He’s had it.»
«Ohhhhh.
Nooooooo!».

And she starts sending nudges. Mi msn trembles every five seconds.

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In 1998, my second year at Ole Newspaper, first one covering tennis with Gustavo Goitia (main writer by that time, now in ESPNDeportes.com), there was one only one computer with Internet access in the whole newsroom.

Thanks to the lnternet, our job was starting to change dramatically. We didn’t have to call abroad to have the challenger drawsheets faxed -remember that time: our No. 1 player, Hernan Gumy, was ranked outside the top 100-. The daily information was starting to appear online.

SteveG instantly became a fundamental source. He made every tennis journalist’s job much easier, and fueled the tennis fan with results, draws (including futures and satellite circuit events, which weren’t found at the ATP site), links, rankings, calendars, and list goes on…

Journalists were able to calculate rankings, even find players to interview them, as Steve would publish the tournament fact sheets (basic information for the ATP World Tour members, including hotel phone numbers).

That irked the ATP, and Steve was asked to stop offering that kind of information. He had to drop some features from the site, including the ATP Weekly file in pdf format, a review with results, information and draws from that week. Until then, that kind of information wasn’t available to fans, only to people related to the Tour.

Please do not point at the web design, it’s very basic, almost all the links in the home site. The idea was to have all the resources on hand. This is the site as it looks today…


(click to enlarge)

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Steve announced he’s bringing the site to an end. He’s leaving it in order to «have a good chunk of my life back,» as he wrote. There won’t be a 2011 version, but the site will be online until 2013, when the domain expires.

It’s been 13 years typing results, with some help he thanks in his final message. I contributed a decade ago, and he would always credit your help in the last line.

«I looked at the site yesterday and I couldn’t find the 2011 calendar, it kind of left me empty,» tells me another journo, Uri, from the argentinian blog DobleMixto.

Steve discovered the web 2.0 concept before anyone ever thought about it. He received help from contributors worldwide. Both the ATP and ITF tried to equal some features from SteveGtennis.

He reasonably argues there are many more resources for information than there were when he began. Me thinks it will impossible to find one as comprehensive and practical like his.

«Steve is a legend. Have you met him?,» asks my friend Juan Ignacio, currently living in Mexico and working for Sportscenter (ESPN).

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In the last few years, I’ve been asked about Steve a couple of times.

Who is he? Why does he do it?
Therein lies part of its mistery.

SteveGtennis got only one sponsor in its entire existence, Plaza, one of the most important racquet-selling companies in the States. I bet they contacted Steve, not the opposite.

When he started, he would type the results, but then developed a database system to make his work lighter.

I contacted him a decade ago, when we both were starting to work in the tennis world, and even though he was kind in his answer, he made it clear he didn’t want much contact. However, he was always there to answer your enquiries and, as I said, he knew he could ask me for results from tournaments in South America.

«I’m a tennis fan from Chicago, that’s it,» he told me that time. He used to work at the Northeastern Illinois University. Maybe he didn’t want want anybody to know he was running the site during working hours.

Steve Gocha, his full name, in this link from the University. Data Analyst, the right job for him.

There’s no picture of SG. There are two Steve Gocha’s on facebook, but I don’t think this might be his profile picture. It might be his profile, though.

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A month ago, I sent him an e-mail with questions for this post. He didn’t reply. I insisted and this time he wrote…

«Thanks for the kind words. It has been a great run. I ‘met’ a lot of people via the internet from around the world. That was probably the best part.»

I insisted once again with the questions. Nothing. I will end it here.

It remains to be seen how the story will continue, if someone will follow his steps. Maybe we find a site like stevegfans.com or similar in the next few months.

Thanks, Steve, for making my job easier.

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