Here’s a curveball for you: Beginning with the Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2013, fans around the world will be able to take part in the Hall of Fame selection process. That’s a pretty significant step for any Hall of Fame body, much less one with a history of controversial, closed-door decision making.
According to an announcement made by Jerry Colangelo at a press conference in Orlando on Friday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has partnered with ESPN to create an online voting framework based on the accepted finalists for each Hall of Fame class, following a simple “yes or no,” format. The top three online vote getters among each crop of finalists will receive one additional “Yes” vote for the sake of final tabulation; enshrinement requires 18 of such votes in total, leaving the online portion of the balloting a relatively small — but not unsubstantial — piece of the final decision.
Odd though it may seem that any basketball fan — regardless of whether they’re well-versed or misinformed — will be able to vote on something as enduring as a Hall of Fame honor, this is a zero-risk enterprise for the Hall. Online voters will be restricted to a pre-screened crop of worthy candidates, effectively limiting their influence. Plus, the online vote only impacts the top three vote getters overall, meaning that in most cases, the fans will simply be affirming the no-questions-asked inclusions who already would have been selected without issue.
It’s a nice token gesture for fan involvement in an oft-debated process, but this isn’t earth-shattering, even though it may be ground-breaking.