Posts Tagged ‘Canton’

Pro Football Hall of Fame Election

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

(February 8, 2012) The recently announced new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (what a wonderful platform they have for the announcement – the Super Bowl) made me think about their process:

  1. Get every voter in a room together,
  2. Hash it out,
  3. Get ‘er done!

It’s a little like making cookies, but the question for me are they commercially baked, store-bought cookies or are they homemade cookies?

For 16 years I served as chair of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame Committee. The committee had two processes for election: one was an independent vote by mail for currently eligible members in which each member of the committee was to exercise independent judgment, and a second process for veteran coaches that involved a committee meeting and group discussion of the candidates, a process similar to that which the Pro Football Hall of Fame uses.

I found having a discussion about candidates to be helpful, but I also thought at times it became like the commercial cookie, subject to group think with each committee member seemingly reinforcing the next.  Independent judgment may be blunted in these circumstances. On reflection I must admit to thinking we got hooked in on one or two candidates early and may have missed some better candidates because one or two committee members moved the group as a whole.

I thought about this when four of the six members of the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame class were primarily linemen. Did the discussion become more focused on these positions for some reason? Was the discussion skewed by a few of the participants and their strong presence? As the results of successive voting moved forward, did someone note this was happening? In my experience, probably not until sometime after the process had run its course and reflection set in.

How to combat circumstances that might lead to group think and potentially unintended consequences? One of the ways is by having timeouts in the process. Give the committee members time to be reflective and process the discussion before moving toward a vote or toward a consensus agreement. Another is to take a macro-look at the process as it proceeds. Ask questions like:

  • Have we over-emphasized some aspect of the discussion?
  • Are only a few of the committee members really participating?
  • Has comment from every committee member been encouraged before we start moving toward a vote or conclusion?
  • How does the impending decision the group is moving toward compare with what I personally thought before it began? Why?

These are some of the ways to keep a group discussion of candidates from becoming a group think and having the induction class look more like the store-bought cookies than the home made ones, which we all believe are tastier and healthier!

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 or 518/852-3033.

Jack is a member of the International Sports Heritage Association and is 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: 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 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?

The Big Day

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

(December 1, 2010) Whatever the organization’s goals, the big day at Halls of Fame for everyone is Induction Day. Everything done with elections, with committees, with the press, and the general public all points toward the moment when those chosen to be honored are put on the public stage and given their moment in Hall of Fame history. Whether the Hall of Fame is a local and relatively unknown or national and universally recognized, Induction Day is the day when everything comes together and the Hall of Fame goes on display.

Preparing for Induction Day is a time-consuming and detailed-orientated series of tasks that is critical to creating a program that celebrates the honorees and the history they represent. Here’s a short list of some of the tasks that I suggest must be completed to be assured that, at the end of Induction Day, one goes home with a smile:

  1. Do as much as possible in advance. Leaving arrangements to the last minute is sure to create tension, headaches, and, undoubtedly, a slip-up or two.
  2. Complete multiple walk-throughs and rehearsals with as many of the principals as possible. One of my nightmare days was a sudden program change in the middle of a big dinner that came about because we could never get our leadership to do a walk-through. In the middle of the event the order changed at his insistence and the program became a scramble for the next two hours with several staffers adjusting on the fly and two planned elements getting short-shift to accommodate the change.
  3. Equipment checks are incredibly important and do not do just one. Audio and video equipment need to be run, the music and speeches recreated as best as possible. One can’t do this enough!
  4. Check back with your vendors and caterers, from having the correct date and time down to the finest detail.
  5. As one reviews and plans, changes may occur. While few will be major, it is important that your contacts with vendors, caterers, volunteers, and staff have been updated to reflect these changes?
  6. Lastly, review the anticipated attendance. Are the arrangements appropriate to the number of attendees?
  7. And remember to anticipate living the duck analogy – the surface may be calm to the outsider, but you are furiously paddling under the surface!

Make Induction Day a signature day for your honorees by planning in advance and constantly reviewing and checking your plans. Finish the day with a smile on your face and on the faces of all who attended.

More Controversy at Halls of Fame

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

(November 23, 2010) Often those who are honored at Halls of Fame are revered by many, but considered undeserving by some. Is unanimity needed for Hall of Fame honor? Would a Hall of Fame be better served by honoring those whose support is universal? Or is the controversy associated with the honor of value to a Hall of Fame?

No national Hall of Fame that uses a large voter pool as part of its election process has ever, at least as far as I can find, elected someone with a 100% vote. Often the individuals in the “no brainer” category receive huge support, as much as 95+%. Why not universal? In many cases a few voters have chosen not to vote the obvious choice in the belief that 100% support should be reserved for the truly transcendent individual. I am not sure those voters will ever find the appropriate candidate! Achieving universal support is, in my view, an unattainable goal.

Often the more controversial honoree is the one who barely meets the election criteria and/or the one who has been a candidate for a number of election cycles before finally meeting the election criteria for the honor.  These new Hall of Famers will have a significant percentage of voters and the general public who will believe the honor has not been earned. How should a Hall of Fame respond to this challenge?

I believe the controversy can be beneficial and the discussion it engenders is helpful for elucidating the virtues of any controversial inductee alongside some negative aspects. Hopefully these discussions take place in the public sphere where the opinions flow openly and each side of the argument gives validity to the respective point of view.

However, the Hall of Fame itself must stay above the fray and stand tall in support of the result. Its response must simply be that the individual met the s/election criteria and is, therefore, worthy of the honor. The Hall of Fame must go about building the case through the biography and associated elements it produces for the induction ceremony. The Hall of Fame’s most important task in these cases is to not waver in its commitment to the process or its outcome.