Last week, the US Soccer Federation released the ballot for the 2013 National Soccer Hall of Fame. This is the fourth Hall of Fame class set for induction without a permanent Hall of Fame or any type of travelling exhibition. For those interested in the history of soccer in the United States, this is a physical gap in what links the contemporary game to its past.
The Soccer Hall of Fame’s building in Oneonta was a statement about the game in this country, and so were its closure and the lack of a replacement. What it says is simple, a game that valued its history during troubled eras when the professional club game was at risk no longer dedicates physical space to its history’s preservation. In fairness to the powers that be in American soccer, England has an equally difficult time preserving a permanent tribute to its own storied history. London’s Premier League Hall of Fame closed in the mid-2000’s. The Football Association’s museum shifted locations before its recent reopening as the English Football Hall of Fame in Manchester, moving from Preston’s Deepdale Stadium.
What the National Soccer Hall of Fame faced before its closure would be familiar to several Hall of Fames in the United States that eventually closed. The economics trump the need to preserve history. That sounds like a grandiose statement, the kind normally followed by appeals for that same history, but that’s not fair. Operating museums at a loss isn’t necessarily in the job description for a national governing body or a first division. It’s an option, one that neither US Soccer nor Major League Soccer seem all that interested in taking right now.
US Soccer already has experience financing the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is well aware of the costs involved. Major League Soccer doesn’t have the same experience, but their public support of the Hall of Fame when it was open to the public was never in doubt. This isn’t a case of downplaying history. It’s an economic concern in an era of economic concerns.
Corner Rating: (with 1 the Hall of Fame remaining in storage and 11 a new facility to celebrate the history of American soccer) 9.
Last Week’s Corner: Schalke split the points with 16th-place Augsburg, which might as well be the working definition for leaving points on the table in the Bundesliga. Our rating drops to a 6.
The Week Before Last’s Corner: Aston Villa exited two Cup competitions in the same week, throwing the club deeper into crisis. Fortunately, those disappointments don’t impact the Premier League table, where Villa are in 17th, the spot above the relegation zone. With that in mind, our rating gets bumped up to a solid 7.5.