Blog Post: Transparency in Hall of Fame Voting
(February 15, 2012) Last week I wrote about the results of the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting process. Mike Florio wrote this observation on the Pro Football Talk page on NBC Sports web site regarding transparency in voting for the Hall of Fame. I agree with Mr. Florio. The number of voters is too small, in my opinion, and the voting process is so structured that to have truly transparent voting would be nigh on impossible.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Soccer Hall of Fame elections are not transparent either, but the number of voters is larger and many of the media voters for those two organizations write about their votes and the decisions they are making on whom to select as part of their sports writing. Choosing to reveal who one votes for, whether for a Hall of Fame or in governmental elections, should be the province of the individual. In general terms, when the voting pool becomes large enough, no single vote has such significant weight that it can change a whole election.
I have conducted Hall of Fame elections for over 15 years where I was among a very select few who actually knew how each voter voted. I have been and continue to be consistently impressed with the effort and thought voters put into their selections. The votes I orchestrated ranged from committee discussions and voting, both public and in secret, similar to the Pro Football Hall of Fame process, to a large voter pool submitting written ballots. In all these 50+ instances of Hall of Fame voting, I cannot recall a vote that I thought was illegitimate or had been influenced by anything other than the voter’s individual thought about what was in the best interest of the organization. That’s what transparency is there to combat; collusion in balloting or, as Mr Florio mentions, the “black balling” of a candidate. In my experience, the voters take the process and the individual responsibility seriously. I believe that transparency demands we know who votes; it does not demand we know how they voted.
So I agree with Mr. Florio, transparency in the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting is neither necessary, as I from my experience integrity of the voters is most often of the highest order, nor an ideal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 518/852-3033.
Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association and is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.