New Blog Post: Recognizing the Passing of a Hall of Famer
How should a Hall of Fame recognize the passing of one its members? The Pro Football Hall of Fame did a terrific tribute to Lee Roy Selmon. And the word "hero" was not part of it! Here's why I think that makes it even more impressive.
(September 7, 2011) The recent death of Pro Football Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon got me thinking about the promotion among fans of Hall of Famers as heroes or purveyors of heroic acts. So I was interested in how the Pro Football Hall of Fame would honor Selmon on their web site. The video tribute was emotional, highlighting his football playing career and concluding with a wonderful quote from Selmon’s college coach Barry Switzer that “…he was a better person than he was a football player.” Truly wonderful stuff and the Hall of Fame should be congratulated for their tasteful manner of presentation.
I want to take this moment to compliment the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their work and to forward it to all as an outstanding example of how to recognize the passing of your Hall of Famer.
But I also am taking this opportunity to think about “hero,” a word, in my opinion, too often used in our current lexicon. The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines hero as:
a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b: an illustrious warrior
c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
d: one who shows great courage
Are these our sport or business heroes? Do they always represent these qualities? Hall of Famers are individuals and groups of immense talent, often blessed by genetics with distinguishing characteristics that give a leg up on the competition. They must also have a strong will to apply those innate talents to the chosen endeavor. All of this certainly makes the Hall of Famer worthy of emulation. After all, isn’t that why we have chosen to honor them? But a hero?
In my opinion we should, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame did, choose other words to describe Hall of Famers. Hero needs to be reserved for those who in a moment of crisis and at great personal risk, rise to the occasion and perform acts of self-sacrifice that to many are beyond imagination. Such were the men and women who rushed to the scene at the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon 10 years ago. Let’s reserve the word “hero” for them and those who emulate them.
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.