Upon Halls of Fame (Music & Sports)

As referenced in the below post, Country Universe recently addressed the issue of inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, relative to their musical statistics. The author drew an analog between sports and music in this regard. I found the topic interesting, and decided to share my thoughts.

Hall of Fame debates have always been hotly contested. There are those individuals who are univerally considered to be Hall of Fame calibre, often referred to as “first-ballot Hall of Famers”, indicating that they either have been, or are sure to be, voted into the Hall of Fame as soon as they are eligible. In my view, these are individuals whose career accomplishments leave little room for debate as to their place among the greatest people ever to have done something (played a sport, recorded music…etc). While undeniably great, first-ballot Hall of Famers are also few and far between.

The inclusion of other individuals in the Hall of Fame is more subject to debate, which is where their statistics come into play. For athletes, their statistical accomplishments may lead to their popularity.  There is certainly a correlation between statistical production and popularity; players who put up big numbers tend to be popular among their fans.  However, there are also extremely popular players whose accomplishments are not as statistically impressive. Similarly, there are artists whose statistics (album sales, tour revenue, #1′s) are directly tied to their popularity among fans. However, there are also artists with a devoted following, who may never reach the statistical peaks of their peers.

So how is the call for the Hall of Fame made?  Which statistical benchmarks provide the line of demarcation?

Sandy Koufax and Patsy Klein? Walter Payton and Hank Williams Sr. All individuals who in a brief period of time (relative to their peers) made an indellible impact on their respective industries. All are in the Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers and Bert Blyleven? Hank Williams Jr. and Pete Rose? Individuals whose career numbers stand among the best in history, but for some reason have not gotten the call to the Hall. 

I know that there is a musical equivalent to Joe Namath as well; someone famous for one spectacular accomplishment (in Namath’s case, the Super Bowl III guarantee), whose overall numbers don’t necessarily match those of other Hall of Famers.

Any thoughts on this side? What makes a Hall of Famer?

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2 Responses to “Upon Halls of Fame (Music & Sports)”

  1. Kevin J. Coyne Says:

    I think statistics/influence/industry respect can make the difference for those on the borderline of being Hall of Famers. Some people are obviously going into the appropriate Hall of Fame, but you can use the numbers to justify leaving a borderline case out or inducting him/her in.

    I don’t know that there’s a parallel for Pete Rose in country music, but the Joe Namath example might be analogous to Shania Twain or the Dixie Chicks: huge stars that broke records when at their zenith (Come On Over could be Twain’s Super Bowl III), but those acts might not have the industry support necessary to get them in there. (Even though they both should go in, in my opinion.)

    There are a heck of a lot more baseball players than their are country artists though, so the Country Hall isn’t backlogged. Even with Kenny Rogers and Hank Jr., the question is when will they go in, not if.

  2. Kevin J. Coyne Says:

    I should add that I prefer the Rock Hall approach to the country one. The Rock hall makes all acts automatically eligible after 25 years. The top-tier (first ballot) acts get in immediately, but this is very rare – Run DMC, Madonna, R.E.M, The Pretenders and U2 are the most recent examples.
    Meanwhile, The Dave Clark Five was eligible for 20 years before they were finally inducted.

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