Archive for the ‘Ceremonies’ Category

Induction: Challenges in Canton

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

(May 10, 2011) Yes, Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are facing a big challenge – rethinking the Induction Celebration or, as the Museum itself terms it, Enshrinement Weekend. I am sure it has been an on-going discussion since the first rumors of a potential lockout of the players – how do we structure the weekend if there is no game? It’s a challenge of mammoth proportions for both the Hall of Fame and the city. How to reorganize an event that has been well organized and received – a highly successful celebration that funds important programs at the Museum and provides the city with revenue?

While the Enshrinement Weekend website still highlights the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, we all know that behind the scenes a full alternative plan has been developed. We, the city, and the Hall of Fame are going to learn how important the game is to building the attendance and the buzz for the entire weekend. I am sure there are many concerned faces throughout the city and state.

The alternative plan is substantially complete by now and many of the key people in the alternate plan have their marching orders. When to announce the change? How to announce the change? These are tough questions for the executives in Canton.

What the Pro Football Hall of Fame will do has the potential to be instructive for everyone. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum faced the same challenge less than a decade ago when Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association were unable to make the schedule work any longer and the mid-season exhibition in Cooperstown was discontinued. Over time the Cooperstown museum has adjusted to the loss of the game by instituting the Hall of Fame Classic, a non-Major League Baseball exhibition game though not scheduled on Induction Weekend, and adding or changing various Induction Weekend programming elements. This year there’s a new event on the schedule, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on Doubleday Field that will honor the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum annual award winners, i.e. the Ford Frick and other media awards.

Okay, so what’s my point? Even the biggest Halls of Fame have challenges and concerns and need to re-evaluate their induction weekends/ceremonies/events on a regular basis. Are you thinking about what alternatives there are to your traditional induction program? How might outside forces cause you to change? Have you sketched alternative scenarios for the event? Always good to have other event models in the hopper, just in case!

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

 

An Election Process Commentary on the National Sailing Hall of Fame

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

(March 29, 2011) The National Sailing Hall of Fame recently announced its inaugural Induction Ceremony will take place on October 23rd at the San Diego Yacht Club. The organization, headquartered in Annapolis, MD, also promulgated its Hall of Fame By-Laws and Rules for Election.

Two elements of the process caught my eye: 1) the size of the selection committee, and 2) the actual voting process.

According to the “BY-LAWS AND RULES FOR ELECTION” dated March 24, 2011:

1. The Selection Committee (the Committee) shall consist of no more than twelve (12)

members nor less than ten (10) members.

2. The Committee shall have national representation and include at least one (1) representative from the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame Board of Directors, U.S. Sailing, a member of the Hall of Fame, the media, the industry, NSHOF Founding Member Yacht Club, a sailing museum, community sailing, two (2) members at large and two (2) additional from the above listed groups.

In my estimation this group is too small. While the Board of Directors, in creating these rules for election, has worked to have good representation of several sailing groups, the small size of the committee will eventually, if it does not demonstrate it in its first class, be subject to “group think.” The membership of this committee will undoubtedly be people well-known to the sailing community and to each other. They have already had many conversations about sailing, sailors, captains, boat builders, etc. and have found areas of agreement and disagreement. They will bring these many years of conversations to the selection process and, though not intentional or orchestrated, will inevitably think along the same lines about who are the seminal influences in sailing as they select each induction class. Maybe that’s acceptable, but I argue for a larger panel as I believe the more votes there are, the wiser the selection.

Here are some ways to increase the voter pool and add to the recognition for the National Sailing Hall of Fame:

  • Extend the voting privilege to each sailing club that is a member of U.S. Sailing. By doing so, the National Sailing Center and Hall of Fame could create attachments to every sailing club across America, garnering more publicity and support for its non-profit educational institution, its activities, and its fund raising. The voting could be organized along Senate lines (a fixed number of votes per club) or along House of Representative lines (the number of votes is dependent on the number of sailing club members with a minimum number of votes guaranteed).
  • Extend the voting privilege to multiple media. These are the people who are going to put the Hall of Fame’s news into popular media. Find those media who regularly report on sailing and sail racing. For example, I suspect there are television reporters across the country who work to cover the local sailing news. Use the local clubs to identify them and give the reporters another reason to put sailing and National Sailing Hall of Fame news into the broadcast.

These are two examples of how one might extend the voting franchise, thereby creating a broader selection panel and, as I believe, a wiser choice of inductees. In addition these alternatives will more widely popularize the National Sailing Hall of Fame and its Induction Ceremony.

The Voting Process for the inaugural classes is:

a) For 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Committee will be split into three (3) working parties, with each working party to review all the submissions in an assigned category. [Author’s note: the Categories are 1) Sailing (Racing – Cruising – Offshore), 2) Technical/Design (Designers – Builders - Sail-makers), and 3) Contributions (Teachers – Coaches - Administrators, Media (including authored works, TV, film, etc.) - Promoters – Organizers)] Each working party will submit up to twenty (20) names from its assigned category to the entire Selection Committee for a maximum total of sixty (60) for the following ballot procedure:

Each member of the Committee shall rank the candidates from one (1) to sixty (60) (or up to the maximum submitted by the working committee if less than sixty (60)) one (1) being top choice/most qualified and sixty (60) being the last choice/least qualified candidate. For each ranking a candidate receives a point value based on the following scale:

Rank Value

1 – total submitted by working Groups (up to sixty (60) points)

2 – total submitted by working Groups minus 1

3 – total submitted by working Groups minus 2

4 – total submitted by working Groups minus 3

Etc.

Once all points are tallied and totaled for each candidate, only up to fifteen (15) candidates receiving 66% of the possible points will be considered for nomination to the

National Sailing Hall of Fame. If more than fifteen (15) candidates receive 66% or more, then a subsequent vote will be taken with only those receiving more than 66%. The candidates receiving the top fifteen (15) total points in this second ranking will be presented to the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame for induction.

Once the three inaugural classes have been named, the process changes a little:

For 2014 and thereafter, the Committee will be split into three (3) working parties, with

each working party to review all the submissions in an assigned category. Each working

party will submit up to ten (10) names from its assigned category to the entire Selection

Committee for a maximum total of 30 for the following ballot procedure:

Each member of the Committee shall rank the candidates from one (1) to thirty (30) (or up to the maximum submitted by the working committee if less than thirty (30)) one (1) being top choice/most qualified and thirty (30) being the last choice/least qualified candidate. For each ranking a candidate receives a point value based on the following scale:

Rank Value

1 – total submitted by working Groups (up to thirty (30) points)

2 – total submitted by working Groups minus 1

3 – total submitted by working Groups minus 2

4 – total submitted by working Groups minus 3

Etc.

Once all points are tallied and totaled for each candidate, only up to five (5) candidates

receiving 66% of the possible points will be considered for nomination to the National

Sailing Hall of Fame. If more than five (5) candidates receive 66% or more, then a subsequent vote will be taken with only those receiving more than 66%. The candidates receiving the top five (5) total points in this second ranking will be presented to the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame for induction.

I once served on a selection committee where our charge was to rank order about 20 candidates. I found it very difficult. It involved making very fine distinctions among many worthy candidates and a healthy block of time to do it well – a very daunting task and mind-jelly-making stuff! I can’t imagine doing it with 60 candidates. And those who are being ranked in the bottom half on most ballots, and certainly those in the bottom ten, will most likely be well outside the point total for election.

I would suggest that ranking all 60 candidates need not be done to find the top fifteen. It is too much work for selectors for too little reward in finding the top candidates. Rather, here are some alternative voting schemes which, in my opinion, are more realistic and will end up at the same place as the National Sailing Hall of Fame method:

  • Have each committee member select 10, 15 or 20 candidates on a ballot; one could even rank order these, and compile the results.
  • Have a 2-step process, similar to one outlined above when the number of candidates reaching 66% exceeds the maximum number in the class. In the first step, committee members select up to 10 or 15 candidates for advancement to a Final Ballot of 20 candidates. On the Final Ballot ask voters to selection and rank order 10 to 15 candidates.

There are several other voting methods that I suggest would arrive at the same end as the one being sought by the National Sailing Hall of Fame. I believe each Hall of Fame needs to review the election procedures annually, taking into account the experiences of the just past ballot year and consider making adjustments that make the process more transparent, easier to understand, and that also widen the voting pool.

What is your opinion? What do you do? Share in the comments section of the blog so all can profit from your experience.

I will be on vacation next week and blog postings will resume the week of April 11.

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

How Many in a Hall of Fame Class?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

(March 16, 2011) My blog of a few weeks ago entitled The Hall of Fame Conundrum: Represent the Sport or Only its Professional Manifestation began a Facebook discussion about the size of a Hall of Fame class. One of the participants in the discussion said that only three (3) of anything (player, veteran player, administrator, owner or whatever is chosen for a title of honoree) should be inducted in any one year. That more than that is simply too many.

Is that feasible? Could your Hall of Fame exist within that limit? I do work with one Hall of Fame who restricts its induction class to two each year. The reasons are simple – budgetary! To afford the expense of transporting, housing, and feeding the new inductee and family for the ceremony, they set a hard limit of two per year.  That is certainly one viable reason to create limitations, but if the Hall of Fame chooses to honor players, veteran players, and non- players who have contributed to the game, then three per year is a true challenge to preserve, perhaps.

So, something to discuss: Should your Hall of Fame limit class size? If so, why? Is it budgetary or is it that you worry about running out of worthy honorees? Or is exclusivity important and the smaller the class the more it looks exclusive? My correspondent opined that having a small number of inductees emphasizes the high standard of the class. He felt that restricting the class to three really made it a very special occurrence. Do you think that way?

Any of these or more are valid reasons to set a class limit and certainly are among the reasons to discuss whether a limit to class size is appropriate to your Hall of Fame.

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Selecting a Hall of Fame Team

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

(March 9, 2011) Selecting a team to honor as a Hall of Fame team can be a challenge. Is a team recognized for a singular achievement, such as a World Series championship or a MLS Cup victory, or can a team be honored for several seasons of superlative play, such as the NASL’s New York Cosmos of the late 70s or the New York Yankees of the 1950s? I want to discuss some of the variables that a Hall of Fame needs to consider as they approach honoring teams.

There are three elements, I believe, to working this challenge: 1) the eligibility criteria, 2) the election method, and 3) the method of honoring.

Among the questions one might ask in establishing criteria include whether one championship is enough, or are multiple championships required? Must the team be undefeated, set team records, or be of historic proportion in the objective statistics, such as all-time highs in wins, home runs, goals, or some other statistical category? And how long do we wait to evaluate a team’s standing? We wait around five years before considering players, but do we need more time for evaluating a team, for putting its accomplishments into perspective? Is ten years a better time frame? 20 years?

Deciding how to elect or select teams for honors is also a challenge. First, is it a “Hall of Fame” team, a “Team of Distinction,” or some other title? Some have expressed the opinion that Hall of Famer should only be attached to a player. What’s your thought? I believe the widest panel possible should elect the teams to be honored, but some think a knowledgeable small committee, perhaps of respected historians of the game, should be doing the selection. Others have advocated a combination, with the historians narrowing the field, and a wider panel choosing among those nominated by the historians. There are many permutations to the series of choices to be made on selection or election and each will need to be carefully considered and debated.

Finally, how does a Hall of Fame honor a team? Does it invite the whole team, the captain, the coach, or some combination of the above? If it is determined to honor a team for its accomplishments over several seasons (those 1950s Yankees or 50s-60s Celtics), who represents those teams if not everyone?

These are some of the challenging questions that will need answers as a Hall of Fame considers this popular option.

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033.

Making the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Memorable

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

(March 1, 2011) The grand task of all Halls of Fame is to make the induction ceremony a memorable event. The honored guests will always remember their day in the sun, the unique and special honor bestowed, the moment of a lifetime; but what of the audience? Can a Hall of Fame create a ceremony that provides such unique and lasting value that it is truly memorable? Every part of the program needs to be evaluated toward the goal of making it so special for all that the ceremony becomes the experience of a lifetime for everyone in attendance and for others who might view it later via the wonderful world of technology. The core target is to capture people’s hearts. No induction ceremony can be considered a truly successful one unless we meet the lofty goals that Jim Valvano presented in his speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards on accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award: If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. “(It actually brings tears to my eyes just remembering it!) That’s what we are charged with searching for!

I suggest there are two major elements that must be right for an induction ceremony to have a chance of becoming memorable: 1) the introduction or presentation of the inductee, and 2) the inductee’s acceptance of the honor. The other elements of the program recede in importance to these two, though they can clearly have a pejorative effect on the memory of an event if, for example, the setting or seating is distracting or uncomfortable. But these two core elements can overcome minor annoyances if they are done well.

As the creator of the induction ceremony, the challenge is to balance those elements under your control with the advice given for the elements outside of control. For example, the induction/presentation can include a video component that can truly be a significant part of making any event memorable and one over which control can be exercised. The video, if used, must be well crafted with exciting and emotional action paired with an audio track that captures the highlight moments presented. That audio can be an announcer’s call of the action or music, usually in combination, that makes important moments jump off the screen into the hearts of those attending.

If video is paired with a spoken introduction, there is incredible importance in coordinating the two. At the National Soccer Hall of Fame we learned to use this technique by highlighting the soccer career via video and asked the presenter to speak about the inductee as a person. This spoken introduction is critical. I strongly suggest limiting this presentation to three minutes at most – it calls to mind that oft-repeated idea: “Anyone can give a 20 minute speech, but it takes real work to give a 3-minute one.” This is surely true. While the Hall of Fame does not control this aspect in total, working with a presenter to refine and re-refine this element can have real rewards. First, it is important we make clear to the presenter that it is not about you! This is a simple idea that I have often seen forgotten. Remember, our goal is to speak to the heart of the audience, not necessarily to their brains. Make it full of the truly important elements that make the life being celebrated.  Paring this to just a few truly emotional moments will provide the audience with the core of the inductee. That’s what is needed and required. Getting this speech right with the Hall of Fame’s active engagement is critical to success.

The same can said of the acceptance address by the new inductee. While the time limit can be more flexible – I continue to believe it is the inductee’s day and the Hall of Fame, while providing guidelines, should not present a hard limit. At the same time, I believe every speech needs an editor and questioner, someone who helps the inductee say exactly what needs to be said and helps him/her do it well. I believe you need to offer that assistance. I’d even suggest that you ask the inductee to send you a written copy and a DVD of a practice session. You can help them refine and redraft, focusing on the key moments of importance to the greater world, emphasizing those elements which are emotional. This will be accomplished by stripping some parts away and adding to others. It can be a challenging, fun, tedious, and ultimately, extremely rewarding process.

While all the associated parts of an induction ceremony are important, they will never overshadow the central importance of the presentation/introduction and the acceptance speech. Working hard at these is well worth the effort expended.

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 jack@jrhuckel.com or 518/852-3033. He has observed more than 100 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies and been a participant in more than 25.