Jim Valvano Says It All

June 6th, 2012

(June 6, 2012) Jim Valvano once told us what makes a perfect day; in summary, think a little, laugh a little, and cry a little and one has had “a heckava day!” Wednesday, May 30th was a heckava day. I attended the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s Induction 2012 Ceremony, held in conjunction with the U.S. Men’s National Team international friendly match against Brazil, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD.

Inductees speaking that day were veteran player Desmond Armstrong, builder Tony DiCicco, and player Tony Meola. Also honored was Grahame L. Jones, retired sports writer from the Los Angeles Times, the recipient of the Colin Jose Media Award for a career of excellence in soccer communications. Also speaking were presenters for each honoree, in order, John Kerr, Jr., Anthony DiCicco, Sal Rosamilia, and 2010 Colin Jose Media Award recipient Paul Gardner of SoccerAmerica.

Valvano’s key points: Laugh, Cry, and Think.

Laugh: Paul Gardner had us laughing about the adventures of he shared with Colin Jose Media Award recipient Grahame Jones and their travels through Spain while reporting the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Grahame drove the highways, but he required Paul to drive the cities. Why? Paul still doesn’t know!

Cry: Tony Meola was emotional in his tribute to former Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt, describing through tears and a choking voice how he was an important influence on his life and a humble and soft-spoken billionaire!

Think: Tony DiCicco described the value of good assistant coaches and the need for open communications. The inspired substitution of Shannon McMillan into the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Germany, which son Anthony described as the key to the eventual triumph of the team, came about because assistant coaches Lauren Gregg and Jay Hoffman literally demanded it be done NOW so Shannon could take the corner kick. The result: a goal off the head of Joy Fawcett and a U.S. comeback win.

Every induction should meet Valvano’s definition. I am pleased this one did.

Desmond and Grahame added another important criterion to Induction: Remembering.

Desmond Armstrong reminded us of an earlier time for soccer and for society. His move as a youngster from urban Washington, D.C. to suburban Wheaton, MD, where his family was the only black one in the neighborhood, opened the world of soccer to him. In this he talked about the importance of family and the seven children that joined him that day.

And Grahame Jones talked about his garage of memorabilia and research materials. These are things the National Soccer Hall of Fame should be interested in obtaining. They document the career of an award-winning journalist and may provide unique and extensive historical materials for future research. Do you keep your ears open for these opportunities at your events?

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 and longer still as a soccer historian. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, who’s 2012 Annual Conference will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI from October 24 to 26. He is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.

National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction 2012

May 29th, 2012

(May 30, 2012) On Wednesday May 30th I’ll be at FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C. to celebrate the induction of Des Armstrong, Tony DiCicco, Tony Meola, and Claudio Reyna into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. At the same event Grahame L. Jones, a retired sports writer who wrote many insightful game reports and soccer columns for the Los Angeles Times, will receive the Colin Jose Media Award, emblematic of a career of excellence in soccer communications.

Armstrong, Meola, and Reyna have played in some of the highest profile matches in recent U.S. Soccer history. Among them they have 20 FIFA World Cup appearances and 293 caps, i.e. matches played for the U.S. National Team.

DiCicco was the coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team that won the first ever Olympic Gold Medal in Women’s Football (soccer) and the championship of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The ceremony, while still not an enormous public event, is paired with an international friendly match between the U.S. Men and Brazil that will attract some 80,000 fans to the stadium. Hall of Famers and the new inductees will be honored on the field before the game. Having been part of this event format for the past three years, I can tell you the walk on the field, the introduction to the crowd, and the roar with which each of the Hall of Famers is greeted, is an awesome moment.

Hall of Fame celebrations are for that moment – the moment that makes the individual who gave it all in cause – feel our appreciation for their commitment and all the “blood, sweat, and tears.”

I feel privileged and am honored to be a part of this event.

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 and longer still as a soccer historian. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, who’s 2012 Annual Conference will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI from October 24 to 26. He is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.

“…let’s at least fix the process so it makes sense.”

May 23rd, 2012

(May 23, 2012) These are the closing words of a recent column by Jacob Jaffe in The Stanford Daily. The column originally caught my eye because it began with a reference to the International Football Hall of Fame (which, incidentally, is actually titled the International Football Hall of Champions) and whether Chelsea Football Club’s Didier Drogba, off his performance against Bayern Munich in the recent UEFA Champions League Final, was a Hall of Famer.

Jaffe went on to research the history and development of halls of fame and to reach some conclusions, mostly summarized by the title of this column. But I’d like to share with you a different tack and my thoughts on why halls of fame are primarily, though no longer uniquely, a North American phenomenon and it is related to my thoughts on soccer/football as a game.

First proposition: Soccer is the most collective game on the popular sports landscape. While individuals in the game can reach personal heights of glory, it is the achievement of the team that is most often emphasized because the accomplishment of individual acclaim is so tied to the team’s success. Let me begin to make a comparison to baseball and football here to illustrate my point: Drogba was on the ball less than 10% of the time in the match, yet he scored the key goal for Chelsea and the winning penalty following extra time. But he does not arrive at either point without teammates providing their share of work. The goal, a magnificent and powerful header, does not happen without the exquisite corner kick provided by Juan Mata, who doesn’t get to take a corner kick without the gritty effort to force the ball off a Bayern defender by Fernando Torres, who is not in that position to… – well, you get the point – an interconnected web of events that led to a stunning goal. “Take that!” msnbc host and Chelsea fan Martin Brashir emphatically shouted on a Monday morning appearance on msnbc’s Morning Joe Show with ESPN columnist and Men in Blazers host Roger Bennett as Drogba’s headed goal was replayed.

Second proposition: The collectivism of soccer fits neatly with the cummunitariansociety of Europe, which is traditionally more urban and has more of a history of cooperative endeavor to solve problems. This manifests itself by the observation that more often European governments take an active role in providing society-wide solutions to the challenges that the society faces.

Third proposition: The North America culture is one of the “rugged individual.” From Horace Greely’s “Go west young man” to the Marboro Man and our traditional sports halls of fame, our society has looked to the individual as the exemplar of accomplishment rather than the team. It’s just our attitudinal heritage!

Contrast the above discussion of Drogba’s time on the ball with the amount of time sport icons like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning or Tom Brady have the ball in their respective hands. Every offensive play!  They are always involved. The pitcher and batter in baseball are always the focal point, with much less involvement with the remaining eight players that make up the team on the field or at bat. In each of these games it is easy to see the value and consequent glorification of an individual.

Consequently, as Jacob Jaffe found out as he researched his column, there is not much of an International Football Hall of Fame. That is not to say there are no glorious museums that celebrate club and country in soccer/football, because there are. Visit almost any club’s stadium in Europe and you will find a trophy room that celebrates the team, its great wins, and the key players who were the backbone of the team through the ages. The museums just are not what the North American sensibility defines as a hall of fame.

Why all this? Because, in my opinion, in this distinction the hall of fame concept identifies important philosophical, societal, cultural, and governing differences between North America and Europe in stark and simple terms. Perhaps recognizing this difference could help us all to understand each other better.

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 and longer still as a soccer historian. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, who’s 2012 Annual Conference will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI from October 24 to 26. He is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.

The U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame

May 16th, 2012

(May 16, 2012) The U.S. Olympic Committee, in conjunction with its presenting partner Allstate Insurance, has announced the 2012 Hall of Fame Class. Many remarkable athletes comprise the class and, to my eye, all are deserving of the Hall of Fame accolade. The Induction Ceremony will be held at Harris Theater in Chicago on July 12.

The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was established in 1979 and inducted its first class in 1983. Until 1992 it continued to induct classes on an annual basis. It then stopped for 12 years, before it “…was revived through the support of the Allstate Insurance Company as the presenting sponsor. Allstate hosted induction ceremonies in Chicago in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009…” So my thought for all of us: Is the commercial partnership a wave of the future for halls of fame?

Certainly there is a heavy expense to the celebration events around an induction, whatever form it takes. From simply a ceremony or induction/dinner combination, as many local and regional halls of fame conduct, to a series of related events that are part and parcel of an induction/enshrinement weekend, such as those at the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the costs involved are significant in relation to the respective hall’s operating budget. Few can sustain their program, regardless of the level, without outside help.

So, is the presenting sponsor the wave of the future? Whether or not your hall of fame is there now, it will be discussing this issue sooner rather than later. I suggest addressing it long before it becomes a necessity. Examine your induction program from election process to announcement to ceremony to celebration and determine which elements can have sponsor/partners and whether there are some aspects, for whatever reason, you prefer not to have commercial ties. Keep track of what other halls are doing to get a feel for the possibilities. And, above all, recognize the choices being made are those that work best for the organization and do not need to meet some hypothetical or idealized criteria. In the end, like the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame, your hall of fame may need a commercial partner to survive!

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 and longer still as a soccer historian. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, who’s 2012 Annual Conference will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI from October 24 to 26. He is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.

Induction as Reunion

May 10th, 2012

(May 9, 2012) This past weekend I had the good fortune to have an impromptu reunion with four high school classmates. We had shared almost all our classes during our high school careers and, because we were from a relatively small suburban town, had known each other for many years. The two hours of our morning brunch flew by quickly and we all departed with the feeling that we will meet again whenever our far-flung travels bring us together. Thank you to my friend Tony for making the arrangements for this fun morning.

It brought back to me one of the key ingredients that, in the past, was a planned part of the National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction Weekend: the Liars’ Retreat. This event was a Hall of Famers and family-only reception hosted at the home of a local Board member, who, coincidentally, was also a Hall of Fame player. For many of our returning Hall of Famers it was a highlight – a chance to relax and remember the past with friends and contemporaries and to tell stories to the newer generation, who would then return the favor. The event served to bond the Hall of Famers in a way no other part of our schedule could do. It was Induction-as-Reunion and certainly helped the National Soccer Hall of Fame encourage its previous inductees to return for the event. It also served to cement relationships among Hall of Famers and between the Hall of Fame and its honorees.

I remember the story of one of the new inductees who, coming off a busy travel week, had spent most of the day getting to Oneonta from home in the Southeast. The plan was to make a quick stop at the Liars’ Retreat on the way to the hotel and a well-deserved rest. Three hours later the departure for the hotel finally occurred, accompanied with big smiles and many fond memories.

I encourage you to explore such a party if you do not already do so. It certainly was a highlight for us.

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 and longer still as a soccer historian. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association, who’s 2012 Annual Conference will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI from October 24 to 26. He is also a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. He will become president of the NSCAA in January of 2013.