Some thoughts on the Hall of Fame

By John Ring

Let's face it. Hall of Fame Committees, their selection process and when and how the ceremonies themselves are conducted are easy targets for criticism. Each and every member has a big target on their backs and are ripe for any negative remark that can either be said or written.

But I also get tired of questions directed at me about how the HOF Committee conducts its business and the ceremonies. While I have some good friends that serve on that Committee, they, as a group, come off at times like Country Club Republicans or Elitist Democrats— the worst of both political worlds.

They take some undue criticism at times. They also get too much credit at other times. It’s probably a thankless job.

But here’s my two cents on Saturday’s ceremonies and issues that affect the Hall of Fame.

By default, a girls basketball game hosted the HOF ceremonies for the first time this year. But this was actually a plus. Attendance had steadily fallen for the traditional time of the ceremony, which occurred during the Saturday night game of the now-defunct boys basketball tournament. This decline in fans also coincided with the sad decline of the boys basketball program which led to the extinction of the tournament itself. With the boys out of the picture now and playing in Rock Island, Coach Evan Massey’s team hosted the ceremonies.

Many felt that the girls game— which featured two basketball teams (Galesburg and Richwoods) ranked in the Top 10 of Class AA— deserved a prime time Saturday night audience and would then be better attended. But GHS Athletic Director Mike Robson didn’t agree. "Our attendance on Saturday evenings has not been as good as in the past. I think Saturday’s attendance was about the same. I was very pleased with the crowd. But with the crowd we get for girls games, I don’t think it makes much difference if we play in the afternoon or in the evening."

Robson said he didn’t want to change the time of the game because the Streaks hope to get back their boys tournament for next season. But the way things are, GHS will be fortunate to get their tournament cranked up by 2005.

Play the girls in prime time next year. Promote the game. They deserve the opportunity. It’s one of the best basketball programs in the state.

• The HOF did the right thing inducting the 1996 Streaks team that finished 27-6 and brought home a 3rd place trophy. They did a dumb thing in omitting sophomore Coach Mike Rux and then-freshmen coach Michelle Wynne. That brought a verbal lashing from the School Board and fan outrage and the HOF corrected their error.

Just one other mistake— the plaque prominently displayed in the showcase by Thiel Gym honoring the 1996 team doesn’t have either the name of Rux or Wynne on it. Maybe they should send it back and put their names on it. Are they in or out?

• Joey Range’s election in his first year of eligibility was a no-brainer and the HOF Committee thankfully had a memory lapse in judging candidates by what they did off the court and after they graduated. That specific clause has always been an "unofficial" way to keep some deserving candidates out of the Hall. Joey was the soul of courtesy on Saturday and was genuinely moved to be inducted. Was he better than Dale Kelley? Yes. Is his name as big as Dale Kelley’s in Galesburg? To the current generation at GHS, it certainly is. It was outrageous and wrong that the Silver Streak boys team of this year couldn’t be in attendance to see Joey Range get inducted.

• In March of 1998, I threatened to write a scathing column attacking the HOF Committee if Joey wasn’t inducted in his first year of eligibility. I’m sure no one remembers this but me. That’s fine. But I’ll fire another shot across the bow now— Sarah Larson should be voted in next year.