Hall of Fame Reform

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It’s the single greatest individual honor in professional sports. The Hall of Fame is the culmination of a lifetime spent working, dedicating and utilizing every gift and opportunity given to an athlete.

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Each sport has stringent requirements to be eligible and worthy of getting in. This week, the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee voted on eligible players and collectively decided that none of the players achieved what they thought was Hall of Fame status.
At the center of their denial was longtime Chicago Cub and longtime HOF hopeful Ron Santo. For years, Santo has campaigned and pled his case to join the elite status of professional ball players. Each year, he’s been short of the percentage of votes needed to be inducted.

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The Veterans Committee is not the only means by which a player can be inducted but this group of living Hall of Famers is one of the few glimmers of hope Santo has left. Almost instantaneously Santo called for reform to the system; ''It's a travesty,'' Santo said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. ''When I saw nobody got in again, I go, 'Whoa, this is wrong.' They can't keep going the way they're going. They've got to put a [different] committee out there.''

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He went on to say, "It'll be eight years now that they've voted and not let anybody in. And personally, I feel like there's a lot of guys that should've been in, not just me," Santo said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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Mr. Santo, you’re right, the system does need reform, but no in the manner in which you refer to. There shouldn’t be any follow up voting. We hear terms like “First Ballot Hall of Famer” thrown around for players in the first year eligible for the hall.

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What we should understand is that everyone should either be a first ballot hall of famer or not at all. To say someone is worthy in their second, third, eight or twentieth year is irrelevant. Unless they’re able to take to the playing field and improve on their legacy, their accomplishments do not diminish or increase as the years pass.

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If a pitcher, oh lets say Greg Maddux (a surefire “First Ballot Hall of Famer”) has 355 wins, 18 gold gloves and a world series amongst several accolades to his resume, those numbers won’t change today, 5 years from now or 20 years from now. To say someone is not deserving of the Hall of Fame in 2008, how can you tell the sports world, they’re deserving of the Hall of Fame in 2015. His numbers haven’t changed and his contribution, at least on the field, has not increase significantly.

The level of superiority that is expected for athletes to be inducted into their respective Hall of Fames should not diminish over time. They are the best of the best. Both on and off the field, their performances should far exceed that of their peers. While I cannot support or deny Santo’s claim that he deserves to be in the Hall, I can say that it’s not a right to be inducted. If the Hall of Fame voters or Veterans Committee decides no player worthy of induction, than no player is worthy of induction. They’re not required to induct players each time they can, simply because they can.

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Should the Hall of Fame (in all sports) Reform?  

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