March 10, 2013
By Charles Cuttone
Do-over voting is wrong call for the Hall of Fame
The other day, for the second time in a little over a month, I received a ballot from the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Unlike the original ballot sent in January, which contained 22 names of eligible candidates, this one contained only five names: Chris Armas, Marco Etcheverry, Shannon MacMillan, Joe-Max Moore and Cindy Parlow.
But I won’t be voting for any of them. It’s not that I don’t think any of them deserve election to the Hall. Indeed, two of the candidates were on the original ballot I submitted.
The blank ballot will be returned as a protest to the procedure. You see, the rules of the Hall of Fame require a candidate to receive 66.7 percent of the vote in order to be elected. This margin is actually smaller than the margin required of voters for either the baseball or football Hall of Fame, but two-thirds seems ok to me.
The problem is, none of the 22 candidates on the ballot reached the threshold. So now the voting pool, which includes all past and present full Men’s and Women’s National Team coaches, all active MLS and NWSL head coaches with a minimum of four years of experience as a head coach in a first division league, MLS and NWSL management representatives, MLS Commissioner, NWSL Executive Director, U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General, U.S. Soccer President, designated media members, and all Hall of Famers, is being asked to re-vote on the top five vote getters.
It’s understandable that a diverse group of voters as mentioned might have a hard time agreeing in such a large majority on someone’s candidacy, but that is exactly the point.
No one on the ballot screamed slam dunk Hall of Famer, unlike past years when the likes of Mia Hamm, Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola and Cobi Jones were elected. If any of the candidates are truly deserving, then perhaps their vote total will grow in ensuing years.
Having a do-over just so there is someone to stand at a podium before a National Team game to receive their honor diminishes the meaning of the Hall of Fame. Baseball, which has been reeling from the fallout from the steroids era, does not have a player selected by the Baseball Writers going into its Hall of Fame this year. The inductees instead are long-deceased greats of the game.
It’s likely there will be some other candidates selected for soccer’s Hall of Fame this year. There is after all a veterans ballot, which essentially includes pre-Major League Soccer era players, and a builder’s ballot which includes executives for their off-field contributions. In addition there will be a winner of the Colin Jose Award to a member of the media, an award the hall has never bestowed on a deceased honoree.
That should be sufficient for a meaningful Hall of Fame induction ceremony. After all, in the absence of an actual Hall (it closed in 2010), the absence of an inductee doesn’t exactly leave a hollow echo.