Posts Tagged ‘National Sailing Center’

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.