Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cause where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's just no place for a street fighting man
- The Rolling Stones
Poor Henry. Up until now, he has been left standing alone to answer for the actions of a group, a group whose other members seem to have decided that it is better to sacrifice one man than it is to come to his defense and risk more casualties. Clearly the UPA HoF does not adhere to the code of the U.S. Army Rangers. Thankfully (but no thanks to his HoF colleagues), Henry is no longer alone.
Over the weekend, someone posted the list of HoF voters, although the list as posted was incomplete. Discounting the founders and the 80 mold, I came to a total of 25 voters when I counted them up, not the 22 that was posted. I’m not entirely sure what the final tally is, nor do I know how many of the voters actually participated in the process. It bears repeating that just because someone is on the list of voters it does not mean that person voted. Further, just because a person voted it does not mean that person reviewed all of the information that was made available by the UPA HoF committee. Unless someone involved in the process is prepared to reveal specific details, we will all be left to guess at how many votes were cast, how informed the voters were, and what weight might have been given to anonymous responses from the Call to the Community.
I’m going out on a limb here: I don’t think anyone involved in the process is going to be revealing any details any time soon.
Some of the recent comments to this discussion have focused on the mathematics of the process, bandying percentages about while postulating as to how many voters would have to have believed X in order for the vote to have been Y. Others have stayed away from numbers, choosing instead to focus on the obvious “fact” that the HoF is a sham unless I’m in. (I’m reminded of the character of Vizzini from Princess Bride: “Kenny Dobyns not in the Hall of Fame? INCONCEIVABLE!”)
I have no interest in speculating on vote counts in terms of yea or nay (although I do think it might be interesting to know how many total votes were cast, as a reflection of participation). Nor would I ever consider questioning any voter’s decision on any particular candidate (least of all myself). If a person has earned or been awarded the right to vote, they can vote as they see fit. My issue with the HoF has never been the outcome of the vote but the process itself. In Henry’s case, I have questions about the specific process he used to arrive at his decision, and the subsequent process he used to justify that decision on Jim’s blog. As it concerns the overall HoF committee, I have issues with how they collected information, what information they chose to consider, and how they went about handling it. Finally, I have issues with the way people involved in the UPA generally or the HoF specifically have reacted when I have made my concerns known. When I gather all of these things together, the processes, the justifications, the reactions and explanations, what begins to emerge is not a pretty picture.
In one of the earliest comments on Jim P’s blog, Henry responded to a question as follows:
The HoF voters had a great deal of information about Kenny's sportsmanship from many sources. They had the peer reviews where some 60 peers had to say whether Kenny's SotG should negatively effect his candidacy for the Hall. And there was the Call to the Community where some 100 people sent in their thoughts. There was also Kenny's blog where he's pretty frank about his sportsmanship.
What I find interesting here is how Henry described the peer review process. From his perspective, the peer reviewers “had to say whether Kenny’s SotG should negatively effect [sic] his candidacy.” That simply isn’t true, and the fact that Henry saw it this way, or at least described it this way, is telling.
The peer review form allows a peer to vote for (endorse the candidacy of) up to 10 candidates. The form that is used for that purpose is also the spirit rating form, so a peer reviewer must make one of three choices in order to endorse a player’s candidacy.
'+/positive' -- the player's spirit significantly adds to his/her qualifications
'0/neutral' -- the player's spirit doesn't significantly add or detract from his/her qualifications
'-/negative' -- the player's spirit significantly detracts from his/her qualifications
A peer is only required to make a selection if he or she is endorsing that player’s candidacy, so no peer HAD to weigh in on anyone. Additionally, although both positive and neutral are available choices, in describing the process as it related to my candidacy, Henry only mentioned the negative choice. Why would he do that?
To get a clue, let’s take a look at another comment. Although Henry admitted that he never played against me, and therefore has no personal experience to go on, he nonetheless shared this assessment:
KD was widely reviled for his misconduct while simultaneously admired for his ability and tenacity.
As a point of word choice, specifically related to connotative as opposed to denotative meanings, consider the contrast of “reviled” and “admired,” or revulsion and admiration. Is revulsion more negative than admiration is positive? Come to your own conclusion.
At another point in this discussion, Henry pointed to some raw data taken from the peer review forms as justification for the low spirit score (1 out of 9) that he gave me.
More than half (55%) of KD's peers checked the "his spirit should significantly detract from his qualifications" box.
If this is true (and I’m not saying I doubt it) doesn’t it stand to reason that 45% chose one of the other two options (neutral or positive)? If that’s the case, how did Henry arrive at a spirit score of 1?
As pointed out in a previous post, he also wrote at one point that the evidence against my candidacy was overwhelming, then later indicated that the responses were about 50/50. What strikes me when I take all of these things into account is that despite the fact that Henry seems to have gone to great lengths to create an evaluation system that would allow him to make what he believed would be an unbiased choice, it might have been a fruitless effort from the beginning. I think Henry may be harboring a sub-conscious bias against me, and I don’t think he’s alone.
When I first read Henry’s comments (almost four weeks ago – seems like longer) I contacted someone (hereafter The Official) who is very involved in the process, a person I don’t know very well but who strikes me as thoughtful and intelligent. We have spoken on several occasions in the past, and traded more than a dozen emails in reference to the HoF selection process generally. I must admit that at the time I was quite upset. Henry’s public posting of the anonymous accusation that I had cheated to change the outcome of multiple National Championship Finals was, in my opinion, quite beyond the pale. The combination of his repeating it while also stating his position on the UPA Board had the effect, I thought, of lending legitimacy to the claim. Perhaps most importantly, in the same string of comments Henry had described the vetting process the UPA HoF had gone through before the comments were shared with the voting committee.
The Call to the Community went out, responses came in, the responses had to include where you played, at what level, and what overlap did you have with the nominee. An administrator checked that information, removed it if it didn't match up, then removed the name if requested.
In other words, the UPA HoF collected the information, put it through a vetting process, deemed it worthy of consideration, and disseminated it among the members of the voting committee. A UPA Board member, in turn, published that information in a public forum. When a newspaper publishes a story based on anonymous sources, if that story turns out to be inaccurate, it is the newspaper that is on the hook. By the same token, given that the UPA vetted this information before one of its agents published it in a public forum, it is the UPA that should be on the hook. That was the point I made when I reached out to The Official. I told him the accusation of cheating to change the outcome of National Finals is totally outrageous, and quite possibly libelous, and that I planned to speak to an attorney about it.
At this point things started to get weird. The Official, with a very serious tone, suggested I probably didn’t want to get attorneys involved, because if I did, even more damaging information would have to be revealed. Imagine my surprise. I had been publicly branded a cheater, my integrity had been trashed, my accomplishments, and those of my teammates, had been called into question, doubts had been raised about the competence of the UPA observers who had worked the games in question, and the very legitimacy of the UPA Championship series had been threatened. And yet, there was something even worse out there. Wow! I had to know more.
The Official explained that there were two “toxic” accusations about me among the responses from the Call to the Community. The first was the accusation of cheating, which Henry had already revealed. The second, clearly the more toxic of the two, had not been revealed by Henry, but it had been among those the UPA had vetted and submitted to the voting committee for consideration. What was this bombshell whose revelation would be so damaging to me that the mere thought of it would cause me to abandon my efforts to get to the bottom of the cheating accusation? What could be so horrible that I would quietly allow my name and ultimate legacy to be tarnished forever rather than risk its revelation? What was this dark secret?
After a solemn pause, The Official revealed it: Steroids.
I tell you the truth: I laughed loudly and long. In fact, if it weren’t so fucking tragic I’d still be laughing.
First, steroids are not illegal in ultimate. Still, if someone used steroids to achieve greatness that would otherwise not have been possible, then surely one whose job included determining whether or not to officially recognize that greatness would have to consider the implications of steroid usage in that evaluation. Fine. I get that. But come on. Seriously. We’ve all seen how steroids work. McGwire. Bonds. These guys went through physical transformations that made Michael Jackson look consistent. I’ve looked like this since elementary school.
In the fourth grade, an assistant principal stopped me and my best friend, Herman Moriano, walking down the hall of Northwood Elementary in Highland Park, Illinois. “Look at the two of you,” he said. “Your arms don’t even touch your sides when you walk.” In ninth grade, I was recruited onto the varsity wrestling team at Riverdale not because I demonstrated any aptitude, but because the coach saw me outside without my shirt at lunch (throwing a frisbee, btw).
From my earliest days as an ultimate player I was a scowling, muscle-bound, beast prone to temper tantrums, and I remained that way my entire career. And if any of you are so simple as to say the tantrums were ‘roid rages, try again. When I was ten years old my mother tried to teach me to play chess. The third time I scattered the pieces across the room after losing, she stopped trying.
Yes, the steroid accusation is utterly preposterous, but it is also insidious, and the manner in which it was handled, both during the voting process and afterward, suggests at the very least that the people in charge of the process at the UPA HoF behaved irresponsibly. I believe it’s much worse than that.
What makes accusations like these so insidious is that there is absolutely no exculpatory evidence. I simply can’t prove I didn’t take steroids. But the anonymous accuser didn’t have to prove I did. All he did was fill out a form, ask that his name be removed, and then let the HoF committee distribute that information to all the voters for consideration. Same goes for the cheating accusation. How do I prove I didn’t? Where is the evidence that exonerates me? And yet the accuser had no such burden placed on him to prove the accusation. He merely filled out a form, asked that his name be removed, and let the UPA HoF do the rest. That they did. They checked the accuracy of the names, dates, overlap – everything but the information itself. Some of you may rightfully wonder how I can expect them to verify every piece of information on every form. I don’t. But let’s not kid ourselves. Not all pieces of information are this serious. By The Official’s own admission, they knew these accusations were toxic, and there were only two of them. Surely they could have done something other than blithely pass them around for consideration by the voters. Surely they could have decided to take some responsibility for the information that they were collecting and distributing, particularly when that information concerned issues of personal integrity and drug use. But they didn’t. Do you wonder why?
Remember that when The Official first mentioned the second “toxic” accusation, he did so in an effort to encourage me to drop the matter. The only way his strategy would have been successful is if it were true. In other words, for him to think that the revelation of the accusation of my steroid use would keep me quiet, he had to have already decided the accusation was true. Considering how cavalierly the cheating accusation was publicized by Henry, one can rightfully imagine a similar feeling among the HoF voting committee about that accusation. Think about it. If Henry really thought there was nothing to it, would he have used it to buttress his argument? It’s probably fair to say that in so far as the HoF voting committee was concerned, the accusations of cheating and steroid use didn’t need to be proven, because they were simply confirmation of what they believed all along. Chew on that one a little while.
Once The Official realized I was not undone by the steroid bombshell (I think I was still laughing, but my guffaws were dying down) he probably figured his strategy was going to fail. At that point he tried a different (and rather pathetic) tack, with predictable results.
Official: You’ve never taken steroids?
Me: Are you serious?
He was. That’s when it hit me. This whole HoF fiasco isn’t about my play, or my style of play, or my spirit. It’s about my life. It’s about the way I carried myself on the field AND off. It’s about the fact that from the very beginning, when I was a young fireplug without throws on a marginally talented, over-achieving team, I never gave a damn what anybody thought. I launched myself into the air, into tirades, and into parties with passionate intensity, and never cared about the collateral damage. Eventually I learned to throw, learned to harness my emotions, learned to manage my buzz, but I never learned to care what the powers that be thought. I still haven’t.
Almost four weeks ago, I started this blog episode simply because a UPA Board member had taken an anonymous accusation which is totally false and published it in a public forum. When I approached The Official, the King Kamehameha of the HoF about it, he tried to intimidate me into keeping quiet by passing on another totally false accusation. I believe that both of those people are guilty of gross irresponsibility at the very least. But that’s not what bothers me the most.
As recently published, there is a long list of names of people who share in this debacle. Every single member of the HoF voting committee had access to this information. Everyone who reviewed it should have known better. Is it really possible, as The Official told me, that not a single one of them thought to say, “Wait a minute. Do we have any proof that this shit is even true? Has anybody looked into this?”
Imagine that. All those great players, who know precisely what it is to train, compete, sacrifice and achieve, and not one of them steps up. Kind of surprising, but then again, maybe not. Maybe they were just pleased to finally have confirmation of what they had always thought. Little did it matter the confirmation came in the form of anonymous accusations. Any port in a storm.
As my conversation with The Official came to a close, he made one last attempt to convince me to keep quiet about this whole thing, or at least to keep the lawyers out of it. I agreed on the lawyers, and he seemed pleased. He suggested that it was possible that Henry owed me an apology, and I facetiously called it a gracious admission. He allowed as how the Hall of Fame process is still flawed, but it’s getting better. He added that he thinks the whole thing is at a vulnerable point right now, and he’d hate to see it fall apart as a result of this incident.
When a guy is involved in distributing false accusations of cheating and drug use about you, grudgingly admits that maybe you deserve an apology, and then tells you what he’s really concerned about is his private club, you get a pretty keen sense of his priorities.
Some things aren’t worth saving.