The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Hall of Fame, Not of Virtue

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There's a five year waiting period for the National Football League's Hall of Fame. CNNSI's Peter King recently offered a good reason why this is: it "eliminates all the emotion from the equation" and also so we can let a career "breathe" and logically evaluate a candidate's legacy several years after he's retired.

In the case of those accused of using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) this waiting period is also the right time to weigh the facts of each case, examine the evidence and understand the circumstances behind these facts. Breaking the rules once is still breaking the rules but society differentiates between first time offenders and repeat offenders. This certainly applies to athletes as well and sports writers who, by and large, are appropriately deliberate when it comes to these matters.

Today, we have Hall of Famers who were admitted cocaine users (Michael Irvin, Lawrence Taylor), who gambled on football (Paul Hornung) and who have been found to have willingly and wrongfully caused the deaths of others (O.J. Simpson following a 1997 civil suit). Ty Cobb is a member of baseball's Hall of Fame but if bloggers and YouTube existed during his career, some of his erratic behavior may have derailed his bid for Cooperstown. While it's unfortunate that these players were not always good people, they were great athletes.

It's called the Hall of Fame not the Hall of Virtue. Performance, victories and statistics are the primary metrics. All other factors, including how PEDs may or may not have affected those statistics are best left to sports writers to decide. And, ideally, after the passage of time provides some distance and perspective.

By Jason Maloni  |  July 31, 2009; 12:27 PM ET  | Category:  Steroids Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Sainthood Not Required | Next: PEDs Don't an All-Pro Make

Comments

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Any great player that used PED should be injected not inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Posted by: bobnolette | August 1, 2009 8:12 PM

I wrote a post on this about 4 years ago in a blog I do called Usedcarsalesman.com; post title is "Sports for Fans, Sport and Art for Athletes": http://www.usedcarsalesman.com/usedcarsalesman/2005/07/sports_for_fans.html

Its not critical of pro athletes. But it does discuss speculations about how a pro athlete's relationship to sport -- through theoretical pharmaceutical use -- may understandably differ from a fan's relationship to sport.

Posted by: chris3 | August 2, 2009 11:24 AM

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