New Blog Post: A Reflection: What Makes a Hall of Famer?
(June 22, 2011) This summer inductions at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be the headliners, but every day of the week and every week of the year, it seems, there are men and women, teams and organizations being honored as Hall of Famers. It has become a ubiquitous sobriquet in our society – Hall of Fame. The term in not trademarked and is used for a multiplicity of purposes and events. Most carry on the great tradition established in 1939 when the Cooperstown shrine first opened its doors and honored its first class.
But what makes for a Hall of Famer? Do we use the oft-repeated phrase of Justice Potter Stewart when he remarked, regarding a totally unrelated subject, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…” Do we know a Hall of Famer when we see him or her, they or it? At least in our own mind we do, but can I set some guidelines to consider as one works to define and then indentify those who have earned the title?
I have long decided that decisions are best when there is a philosophical construct for making choices. Creating a broadly worded definition that encapsulates the core ingredients makes sense to me, so here’s my try: “A Hall of Famer has earned the title through a consistent demonstration of superlative behavior paired with moments of absolute brilliance that defy belief.”
Each element of the definition I postulate can be extrapolated to a particular activity. Here are some of the ways I breakdown this definition:
“Consistent” implies longevity. Is there a contribution standard in terms of how long the impact needs to be demonstrated?
“Behavior” includes the concept of skill and tactical sense in sport along with sporting conduct. It is also broad enough to incorporate those whose accomplishments are outside the athletic arena most commonly associated with Halls of Fame.
And the “…moments of absolute brilliance…” tell us that Hall of Famers have also, from time to time, demonstrated an especially extraordinary contributions that have changed how one views the activity.
Does this definition work for you? Can you use it to formulate more specific criteria for your Hall of Fame? Let me know your thoughts.
Jack Huckel, Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates, offers election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. Jack served the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum as Director of Museum and Archives for 9-1/2 years after more than 10 years as a volunteer. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at email@example.com or 518/852-3033.
Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, whose Annual Conference, “Survive AND Thrive,” will be held on October 12 – 14, 2011 at the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum in Oakville, Ontario.