The League

Mackie Shilstone
Sports Performance Manager, MA, MBA

Mackie Shilstone

Executive Director, The Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital

Remember Ozzie Smith

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In 2002, I had the distinct pleasure and honor to be seated along with my son on the front row of the induction of former All Star St. Louis Cardinals short stop Ozzie Smith into the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, New York. Having worked with Ozzie for twelve years of his career, I knew first hand why he was selected to be one of baseball's elite. He possessed unbelievable skills and had the discipline, desire and determination to be the best. In my mind what put Ozzie on a fast track to the HOF was his deep desire to return something back to the game through his understanding that the baseball fan who came to see he and his teammates day in and day out were the true stars. He treated them as such with endless hours signing autographs, after other players had gone home coupled with his countless appearances on behalf of charities to benefit those that needed help.

In reflection, I wonder how he was selected to the Baseball Hall Of fame, not why he was selected. How did Ozzie's selection process differ from the NFL's HOF selection process which culminates this weekend with enshrinement. I went to the Wikipedia and here is a what was partially said about the Baseball Hall of Fame selection process :

"Players are currently inducted into the Hall of Fame through election by either the Baseball Writers Association of America (or BBWAA), or the Veterans Committee, which is now composed of living Hall of Famers; additional special committees, some including recipients of the two major awards, are also regularly formed to make selections."

I found it interesting that the word "fan" was omitted in this statement. I figured it must be a mistake. So, I said I know the NFL must be setting the trend with fan involvement. Let's check. So, I did, by going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame site.

Here is a statement that I found:
"The Board consists of one media representative from each pro football city with two from New York, inasmuch as that city has two teams in the National Football League. A 33rd member is a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America and there are 11 at-large delegates. With the exception of the PFWA representative who is appointed for a two-year term, all appointments are of the open-end variety and can be terminated only by retirement or resignation, as long as the member continues to attend meetings regularly.

The Board of Selectors meets annually at the time of the Super Bowl to elect new members. There is no set number for any class of enshrines but, the Board's current ground rules do stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year. The 1973 and 1976 classes of three were the smallest ever named."

Well, I guess I was wrong. It seems, from what I read, that a small group of individuals representing different interest groups determines the "who's in and who's not" process for HOF selection in two of the biggest sports. I guess that's like saying that despite what the population votes in the Presidential election, it is the Electoral College that actually selects the president, as our Country has witnessed in past elections. If our founding fathers, who wrote our Constitution, determined that such a process was best for us citizens to live by, then who are we to question what is currently done in certain sport's selection process for those to be elected to the HOF to represent their respective sport. And, I must say their selection process from my perspective seems to be dead on.

Nevertheless, it is the fan who is the economic engine that allows the Leagues, the owners, the players, to reap riches beyond our economies wildest dreams- such that Wall Street CEO are jealous. We must never forget that the fan is that man, woman, and child that is outside in the cold looking in through the windows of TV, Internet, and stadiums -- kept at arms length from the assets they have invested in through season tickets, cable access, concessions and parking. Not to mention the use of the fan's tax dollars to build new stadiums, renovate older stadiums and training facilities.

If we have controversy over whether or not we should have a government run healthcare system, could you imagine what would happen one day if the fan woke up and said "I will not go to sporting event or watch said event on TV. " What would all the owners, players and agents do for a living? They might be on the outside looking in as to something that they took for granted ,until it the fan ( the investor) woke up one day and said good bye, " I'm selling my shares in this company." The company's management (the owners and players, etc.) might need to go and look for another line of work where their current skills (running, passing, hitting, etc) have little market value.

At this time when a group of new retired players are being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, let's not forget how they got there and take a lesson from the Wizard, Ozzie Smith, and give thanks and invite the fan into your heart and allow them to have a direct voice into a building (the Hall of Fame) selection process that the fan built with sweat equity- more so than any player will ever do. It is time to reflect.

By Mackie Shilstone  |  August 9, 2009; 12:52 PM ET  | Category:  Fans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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