Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

A Vacation Satisfaction

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

(April 12, 2011) I left on vacation over a week ago with a certain sense of satisfaction – an election process I had worked to develop over ten years had recently been concluded and the announcement of its results had been very well received. U.S. Soccer, on March 29th, announced that National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Three players, a veteran player, and a builder were elected and the results indicated that several others received vote totals that indicated good engagement on the part of the voters. Several candidates in the Veteran Player and Builder elections, where only one candidate can be elected in a year, received votes close to or above the election criteria. In the Player election the results showed strong support for the players elected.

The press reporting of the announcement was positive, with virtually universal praise for the Class of 2011. That is a testament, first, to the high quality of the individuals who will be honored at Induction 2011, but also, I believe to the election process.

I was part of a team of several Hall of Fame affiliated individuals who, over the course of several years, analyzed election data and results and continued to ask a few basic simple questions:

  • In our heart of hearts, do we believe the result was the best possible?
  • What have we learned this year?
  • How can we make this a better election process?

Those of us who conduct these elections have, I believe, a need to have a real feel for the history of the area for which the elections are being held, whether it’s a sport, a geographic area, or an organization. We need to have a feel for who ought to be recognized. If we come away from an election result with the feeling that those most deserving have not been elected, and I totally understand this is a subjective criteria, then I think we are obligated to question our election methodology.

An election almost always has some unanticipated element. It might not occur at the top of results tabulation, but somewhere in the details of the election are unexpected findings. One of the most surprising examples for me in the National Soccer Hall of Fame Player elections was the realization, over the course of several elections, that the Hall of Famers were more willing to elect than other voting pools. How did we know this? The average media ballot, for instance, selected fewer players that the average Hall of Famer ballot. One would have thought once they were “in the club,” so to speak, they would choose to keep it smaller, but that turned out not to be the case. Many years down the road now, I still don’t know whether that is good or bad, right or wrong, just that it is an interesting curiosity!

I believe we fail our duty if we do not ask the third question. “Better” is a subjective that covers many nuances to the voting. It includes a multitude of questions about who votes, how the votes are counted, the transparency of the process, etc.  Even when elections have really great results, we must not allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency. One never knows what gems of understanding or potential downfall may be hidden in the data.

The core of my pride in the National Soccer Hall of Fame Election 2011 result was that a team of people who cared about making the process one that would have universal credibility and validity worked together to continually question our assumptions and biases. We discussed, argued, and wrote to each other to meet the goal of producing the best election process for our organization. We saw it as a moving target rather than a fixed point.

It’s not that you should mirror the specific election process developed at the National Soccer Hall of Fame; rather I believe each organization that conducts a Hall of Fame election has an obligation to analyze and discuss every year’s voting results in search of a better process for the following year. We should appreciate the business management concept of Six Sigma and apply it to the election process endlessly in search of that perfect election.


The NSCAA Hall of Fame

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

(January 5, 2011) While I have been an active historian since the early 80s and interested in history from a young age, I became formally involved in the Hall of Fame process by joining the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame Committee, then eventually chairing it, in the early 1990s. Next week I will attend the annual NSCAA Convention in Baltimore and induct two new members, Joe Borrosh of Pittsford (NY) Mendon High School and Terry Jackson of Wesleyan (CT) University, into the NSCAA Hall of Fame. These moments of celebration provide an opportunity to honor individuals who have brought great credit to themselves, to their respective schools, and to their sport.

One of the great privileges of my life is to meet and become friends with those who are being honored and to make these introductions. These occasions fulfill a dream for me and are opportunities to live history through the memories of those honored. At the same time, they provide a foundation for the younger members of the Association a guiding star for those just beginning careers.

This is true of all Halls of Fame. We have a solemn responsibility to provide ensuing generations with certified heroes, men and women, teams, and events that will serve to honor history and provide a reference for what is the good in our world. New York Times writer Tyler Kepner reflects on this in his column on Baseball Hall of Fame voting. How do your selection process and your selectors meet their responsibilities?

Jack Huckel, Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates, offers election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. More information is available at the firm’s web site. Jack can be reached at or 518/852-3033.

Happy Holidays! And Hall of Fame Interviews

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

(December 23, 2010) A short column as we lead into the holiday season! May yours be filled with family and joy!

I am returning home from two Hall of Fame interviews for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. What a tremendous privilege it is to participate in documenting the evolving history of this organization. For the first time the organization budgeted for video interviews in conjunction with the production company Williams Gerard, and we hope the new Hall of Fame presentations will be more engaging than any that have been given in the past. Only time will tell if that is to be true, but the opportunity is there.

How do you document the Hall of Famers you select? And how do you incorporate the documentation and the acceptance? These are ways to provide more engaging presentations if done well. What’s your plan?

Halls of Fame Everywhere

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I have a Google Alert set with the key word “Hall of Fame.” It’s a pretty simple search, but my inbox is filled each day with multiple announcements for Halls of Fame – announcements of a ceremony, the names of those inducted, the honors a Hall of Fame is distributing, and, in short, a snippet of the history of America, because that’s what Halls of Fame represent.

As I have noticed the wide variety of Halls of Fame and the fact that every entity, from town or chamber of commerce to national organization, have a Hall of Fame – at least it seems that way – I search for the point of it all. Why is there a Hall of Fame virtually everywhere one looks? My interpretation is that we all have a reverence for those who have gone before – those who have provided us with a leap forward, with a hand up the ladder of development, or those who have provided us with an example of the best of humanity – those who have found a way to maximize their talents to the benefit of a game, a business, a community, or a nation.

I suggest that a study of the growth of Halls of Fame is a study of American culture and our belief in the legacy of our forebear. May we always be so awed by their achievements that we continue to honor the people who have provided us with a route to the future.

National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction 2010

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

What is a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony? What it should be is a series of inspirational stories about striving, failing, and achieving and a “Thank You” for those who helped along the way. Such it was on August 10th when the National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium prior to the U.S. Men’s National Team Match against Brazil.