Longevity doesn’t always mean greatness.
The previous sentence might cause some people to puzzle, but it holds a strong relevancy to the remainder of this column.
In early October, the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame announced its inductees for the 2020 class. The list includes Charles Culberson, Charlie Culberson, Charles Smith, Toryan Smith and Jaleel Riaz.
Trying to list the accomplishments of this group would eat up every word of this column, so if you are unfamiliar with these great athletes I recommend you do a bit of research.
One of my jobs at the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority is to help facilitate the Hall of Fame Golf Tournament and the Hall of Fame Banquet. I also interact with the Hall of Fame committee and receive the nominations for those wishing to go into the Hall.
I have no say in who actually enters the Hall. I don’t envy the decision makers, because there are plenty of super-talented athletes and individuals who have contributed to athletics in Rome and Floyd County.
Just for example, I can probably name about four or five collegiate All-Americans, professional athletes, five-time or more high school state champions who aren’t in the hall.
Does that mean the committee is doing a good job? No. It means this makes the committee’s job of picking the candidates each year difficult. In fact, difficult is a vast understatement for the committee’s decisions.
Back to longevity. Many nominations talk about the 30-plus years of service as a coach, official, athlete, etc. No doubt, these individuals deserve commendations and platitudes for their service, but what did they accomplish during those 30 years?
I guess the issue at hand is what exactly makes someone Hall of Fame worthy?
Just because a certain person may not fit that description doesn’t mean they aren’t or weren’t a great athlete or coach. However, in this element you’re competing against the best of all time.
I was all state in track and across country and did well as a collegiate walk-on in those events. There are a handful of distance runners, who have won multiple state titles and had far more collegiate success than I did, that aren’t in the hall. A few of them may make it, but that alone tells me I have little to no chance.
Does it feel bad? A bit, but it doesn’t devalue my achievements. It just means that there are others who did or achieved more.
Win a state title in high school – that’s great. There are probably several hundred local athletes who have done that. Earn high school All-America honors – now we’re starting to narrow things down. There aren’t tons of those. However, I can think of at least five that aren’t in the hall yet.
Play a sport collegiately, that’s amazing, but there is a very long list of locals who’ve played college sports. Earn a conference or all-America honor while playing a college sport; again we’re starting to winnow that field down. At the same time, there are some locals who have earned all-conference or all-American honors that aren’t in the hall yet.
There are locals who played at a high level professionally – and some that still do – who aren’t in the hall yet.
There are many local coaches who have experienced great success, won a lot of games and even captured championships. Sometimes the candidates kind of speak for themselves. Current South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp who starred at Darlington before playing at Georgia and helping Nick Saban win a national championship at LSU was a no brainer.
There are several other no-brainers walking around out there, too. I’ve been privy to a list of great candidates. Will all of these candidates get into the hall? I have no clue, but an amazing case can be made for all of them.
When this year’s class was announced a few people took to social media saying they didn’t know who any of the candidates were. My first question in my head not voiced or written was, “Have you been living under a rock?”
The next statement from them usually involved stating how someone else deserved to be in the hall just as much if not more. Here comes the wash. The Hall of Fame allows anyone to nominate a person for induction. A link on www.rpra.com pulls up the form and the process that needs to take place to nominate someone.
Before doing so, take a long look at that person and their resume.
What did they do during or after their career to really stand out? What were their achievements? How do they show that without a shadow of a doubt they deserve to be enshrined with the best of all time in Rome and Floyd County?
One issue I see with nominations is no supporting evidence. Telling that someone played or coached for 30 years is one thing, but make sure to list their achievements, wins and losses, awards, etc. If they’re being nominated for meritorious service, what service did they do? What sets them apart from other people who have contributed to athletics?
Be specific; give exact details and please don’t make anything up. The resume will be checked and double checked long before their name is thrown into the applicant pool.
Another note is that as well versed as the committee is on local athletes, there is always a chance someone truly worthy has slipped through the cracks. That’s another reason why the nomination process is so important.
For those out there seeking to be a part of the Hall, good luck. It is an exclusive group and not easy to gain entry.
I didn’t write this to demean anyone’s accomplishments but instead to try to shine a spotlight on what it takes to have a fighting chance to make the Hall. Maybe a few of you reading this now will end up on that stage receiving your Hall of Fame plaque in 2021 or beyond.