Thursday, May 21, 2009

The AFL Hall of Fame Again (sigh)

A few week's back I did a couple posts on the dopiness of the AFL Hall of Fame.

This week the Hall of Fame has been in the news because firstly, it isn't going to grant "Legend" status to Lou Richards, and secondly, it was rumoured today that Wayne Carey will miss out on being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the second year.

Now, two things. First, there is no way Lou Richards should be given "Legend" status. But to be honest, I think the whole concept of Legend status is a crock anyway.

Second, Wayne Carey should be in the Hall of Fame. He was without a doubt the best player of the 1990s, and arguably the greatest ever Centre Half Forward. He never cheated in the game, hasn't got done for taking performance enhancing drugs, he hasn't been known to bet on games he was playing. All he has done illegally wrong, he has done since retiring from the game.

The Hall of Fame is a museum for the AFL, it should not be seen as a Hall only for the pure and nice. OK there possibly are exceptions, but Wayne Carey as far as I am aware is currently a free man, so why not put him in the Hall? Putting in the Hall is in no way the AFL saying that it's ok to "glass" someone. And I would bet my life in his speech he would be as contrite as possible and as humbled by the honour as you could get.

But here's the thing, it's just my opinion. I might be wrong - you are free to disagree with me. Heck I might even agree with you after a discussion (I am certainly no fan of Carey's - I hated him when he was at North, and I hated that the Crows traded for him).

But do you know how many people get to decide who gets into the Hall of Fame? (A while you're at it here's another quick question - who else is being considered this year? Have to say I don't know the answer to that.)

Here is the list of people on the Hall of Fame committee:

AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, former players Kevin Bartlett, Brendon Gale and David Parkin, football historians Brian Atkinson and Jim Main, SANFL executive commissioner Leigh Whicker, former Victorian government sports minister Tom Reynolds and journalists Tim Lane, Mike Sheahan, Patrick Smith and Caroline Wilson.

That's it. Twelve people. Anyone know why a Victorian Sports Minister is on it? Anyone have any idea if Brendan Gale saw many SANFL games in the 1980s? Anyone got a good reason why there are only journalists from Melbourne?

I don't know about you, but to me that list makes a complete joke of the entire Hall of Fame.

Why should anyone give a stuff? Carey doesn't get in? Who gives a rats - it's just the opinion of 12 people (and probably not even all 12). Richards a legend? Yeah if you want, but so what? So 12 people think he's a legend? Good on them. I could find 12 others who don't. I bet I sure as hell could find 12 people who have been around football for a while who think Peter Carey should be in the Hall of Fame...

And that is the bloody point!

This process absolutely pathetic. Patently undemocratic, incredibly elitist and virtually guaranteed to produce a poor result.

Any group of 12 people will arrive at differing results - especially if it is done through consensus. But if (as I have argued) you widen the process to a voting group of around 100 people from the media across the nation, from administrators and coaches across the nation, from ex-players, from member of the Hall of Fame, well then my friends, you're going to get a sense of what the real football community thinks.

Just ask yourself what you would consider a bigger honour - if a group of 12 people (only 4 of whom ever played at the highest level) came to a consensus that you were one of the greatest players, or if 100 people from throughout the country including members of the Hall of Fame, all current coaches, journalists from ever major news outlet in the country and every President of every club and other assorted officials have voted and over 75% have decided you were one of the greatest players?

I know which one I think is bigger.

Ask yourself this as well - which process do you think is going to lead to a result more reflective of what the general football going public thinks? 12 people in a room, or over 100 people voting on a ballot paper. Which would you prefer: a Government decided by a committee of 12 people who write about and study politics, or by a democratic vote? Which do you think leads to the best result?

The old saying is that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. That's certainly applies to the AFL Hall of Fame.

Change the system now, and make it actually mean something.

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