In continuing my look through various sports and trophies and awards, we arrive at the peak of all individual athletic achievement in a sport: induction into the Hall of Fame.
Today we look at 6 of the US/Canada-based Hall of Fames for the major US sports (including hockey). Who has the best honors?
Number 6: National Soccer Hall of Fame (Frisco, TX)Embed from Getty Images
The National Soccer Hall of Fame is likely the hall of fame on this list that has the least amount of notoriety that comes with it. Started in the 1950’s and officially recognized in 1979, the soccer hall of fame has had a rough go of it. It took 2 decades for a location to be found, starting in Oneonta, NY from 1999-2010. However, the NY-based hall of fame closed again and nearly went decade without a home before being added into the current stadium for FC Dallas in Frisco, TX.
For an inductee, during the inauguration ceremony they are awarded a red jacket and a small trophy (see above). However, I could find no information, photographs, or otherwise of a permanent marking/plaque/etc. for each inductee inside the Hall of Fame itself.
Number 5: National Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, MA)Embed from Getty Images
Basketball may quickly become the top sport in the USA someday. Baseball continues to show poor ability to market its players and Football has a major image problem looming with health/injuries, while Hockey and Soccer don’t pose a true threat. However, for this exact reason it is a shame that the National Basketball Hall of Fame honor is so lackluster.
Each inductee receives a trophy (seen above) and their photograph gets added on the ceiling above the main portion of the museum (seen here and much closer here). Having a physical token of a player does put it above the Soccer Hall of Fame, but I did read that players inducted after the 2015 Class a biography about each player is no longer added. (This may or may not be true.) However, the lackluster portrait alone shows why this hall of fame ranks so low.
Number 4: Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto, ON)Embed from Getty Images
Our only non-US-based Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Ontario in an incredibly cool looking, old-fashioned style building. Given how hockey is the #1 sport in Canada, it makes sense that the Hall of Fame is located up north, though there is an American-based Hall of Fame located in Eveleth, Minnesota (which is also very fitting).
For an inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, they get a plaque put into the Great Hall of Hockey (seen here), which, like the building itself, is an amazing space. Each inductee does not get a trophy to take home, nor a jacket to wear, but having a readable plaque in such a cool space easily puts it above our last two.
Number 3: NASCAR Hall of Fame (Charlotte, NC)Embed from Getty Images
The American sport that takes place on the biggest surfaces (the tracks), with the biggest equipment (the cars) continues to show that going-big or going-home works. Located in Charlotte, NC the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in 2010 in an incredibly large and stunning building.
For an inductee, they get awarded what I can only really imagine is called a plaque, of which looks to be about 10-feet tall (seen closer here). I really can’t say much more, but for an honor that distinguishes oneself from his sporting peers, NASCAR definitely makes it a grand marking and award.
Number 2: National Football Hall of Fame (Canton, OH)Embed from Getty Images
It’s clear that the National Football Hall of Fame and their traditions have rubbed off on other hall of fames. With their induction ceremony players are awarded a golden jacket (that looks more khaki than gold, but I digress), much as the soccer hall of fame does with their red jacket. Though, I do wonder if each of these ceremonies takes inspiration from the Masters.
Regardless, the Football Hall of Fame also comes with the most notable award that comes with their induction ceremony: a bust of each players face (seen above). For some, like the photo I chose of Michael Strahan, the piece comes out very well. For others that aren’t as good, well…they’re bust busts (not my joke). Unfortunately, one bad apple can ruin the bunch. That, and it’s overly flashy for me. They’re cool, but they’re too much.
Number 1: National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, NY)Embed from Getty Images
The National Baseball Hall of Fame set the standard for what a sporting Hall of Fame should be. Located in the small town of Cooperstown, NY it has a quaint home that lightens up for a few different weekends a year as a mecca for baseball fans around the country. The oldest professional sporting hall of fame on our list, the National Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1936 and dedicated officially in 1939.
For an inductee, their legacy gets enshrined with a plaque that follows the same conventions as all of the previous inductees from history and gets placed on the wall in the plaque gallery where players can be easily found, easily read, and easily distinguished. It’s the pinnacle of what the honor should be: humbling to a player/baseball personality for years of service above and beyond their peers.