Posts Tagged ‘Sport Museum’

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

The Hall of Fame Conundrum: Represent the Sport or Only Its Professional Manifestation

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

(February 22, 2010) That’s the conundrum facing the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Or, at least that’s what a blizzard of columnists and commentators think they should be evaluating. They believe that the failure to include Indiana Pacer guard Reggie Miller among the finalists on the 2011 Hall of Fame Ballot indicate there is a need for the NBA to form its own Hall of Fame.

Here’s a sampling of stories:

Reggie Miller: Not a Hall of Fame Finalist
Dear Hall of Fame Voters: Here’s What You Can Do With Your First Ballot Exclusion
The Basketball Hall of Fame turns its back on Reggie Miller

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recognizes teams, players, coaches, administrators, and owners from all strata of the game; international, women’s, college, and more in addition to the NBA. Does that distract from honoring the greats of the professional game? Last year’s induction class included four NBA stars, a high school coach, an NBA owner, a women’s pro player, and others. Is the effort for inclusivity bad? Or good?

That’s something each Hall of Fame must decide. Think about the mission you have set forth for the organization. Does it invite a smaller or larger pool from the population? Is that a plus or a minus? For the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the inclusion of NBA stars is, perhaps, critical to the business proposition. Should an NBA Hall of Fame be formed, it would undoubtedly take away income and memorabilia resources from the Springfield shrine.  For the Halls of Fame that maintain a museum and associated facilities, such as research libraries and photo archives, business is an important element of survival. Maintaining the historical museum requires significant staffing and resources, both contributed and business income, including the gift shop operation. An NBA Hall of Fame, with its own museum, would cut into virtually every form of resources available.

So the follow-on questions arise: Should the Naismith change how it elects? Should your organization make changes when faced with similar issues? Worth a discussion at the least!

Financial Reporting – Taking the Bull by the Horns!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

(January 25, 2011) The recent travails of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, reported by several sources including Fox Sports on the web, have been troubling to many.  What was projected to be a profit of more than $800,000 in the first year of operation has morphed into a projected deficit of almost $1.3 Million, and that’s after a reported 25% cut in expenses and assuming the Museum attracts 250,000 fans! These are daunting numbers for the Charlotte, NC community to absorb and, it seems, many worthy projects will need to be put on hold as the deficit is filled.

This news may have struck your community and made them wonder about your and their economic prospects. Is your Hall of Fame and Museum an economic driver or a drag on the local economy? There is no time like the present to put the facts out. Maybe it’s a press release or a story suggestion to your local newspaper, or an op-ed piece, an interview on local radio or television, or a mailing to your membership and donors. Whatever the medium, the message needs to assure the community of your economic health; indeed, it could provide your supporters with more reasons to donate time and money to the cause.

My suggestion: Strongly state your vision for the future, the mission of the organization, and, most of all, how you are being responsible in these economic hard times. How have you met the challenge? What difficult choices have you made? Identifying the programs, exhibits, or events foregone could motivate a new donor.

Be pro-active, transparent, and honest! Have your annual statement handy! These steps will build your equity in the community.

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.

The New Year Requirement

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

(December 28, 2010) With the New Year comes the opportunity, at least, if not the necessity, to re-examine all that we do as Halls of Fame. Some years the review can be a quick check to see that the organization is on-track with its previously stated strategic plans and priorities, but, every few years, it is important to take an in-depth look and, perhaps, to edit or create new vision and mission statements that revitalize the organization and redraw the strategic plans that bring the vision and mission to life..

In the area of finance for a Hall of Fame or Museum, I am less well versed. But I do know that without a vibrant vision and mission statement, the opportunity to develop earned and contributed revenue in the future will be an even greater challenge than it is today. We know in today’s economic environment that keeping our doors open plus honoring our Hall of Famers and the history they represent appropriately is an increasingly difficult proposition. We must continually evaluate the landscape and morph to meet new opportunities and new challenges.

Over the next year I’ll be writing about some specific areas in relation to Halls of Fame and how you may find ways to operate that will enhance the vision you have of the future and will make the accomplishment of your mission more realistic. Areas that I will discuss and provide further depth include:

  • Variations on the election or selection process,
  • Induction event planning and execution,
  • Media relationships and press materials in conjunction with the aforementioned events.

In addition I’ll keep surveying the scene looking for the best ideas of our colleagues, the controversies that arise, and bring them to everyone’s attention.

Best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

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?