Review: the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF) has endured its fair share of criticism over the years. It has a fetish for inducting college basketball coaches over their professional counterparts. When it comes to professional players it stunningly neglected such notables as Artis Gilmore and Adrian Dantley for years and continues to shun other luminaries like Bernard King and Sidney Moncrief. Finally, and most damning of all, its selection process is shrouded in secrecy. Well, here’s another critique of the Hall of Fame: its website does an adequate but not exemplary job of telling the history of its inductees.

Firstly, let’s review the adequacy of the HOF’s website, It has a very appealing color scheme and design. The Halloween black, orange, and white flow together quite nicely and subtly remind you that basketball was indeed founded as an indoor sport for the fall and winter in New England. Another, surprising, element of is its story on the invention of the jump shot by Glenn Roberts in the 1920s and 1930s. This excellent piece of history is inventoried under the “Hardwood Heritage” section of the site.  If you’re expecting to see more under that promising section, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. There are no other stories underneath “Hardwood Heritage”.

Adequate but not exemplary.

Setting our sights on the actual inductees of the HOF, does catalog every single member. You can find them either by alphabetical order or by seeing the different classes of inductees. For example, if you want to see if Wilt Chamberlain is in the Hall of Fame, then you check under the “C”s or go through the years of inductees and find him in the 1979 class. The problem though is that to search for Chamberlain, you have to scroll down a single page of text. There is no actual “search” function unless you do a classic CTRL+F and start typing in Wilt Chamberlain’s full name. And believe me, you do have to type his full name: “Wilton N. ‘Wilt’ Chamberlain” is how he listed.

Adequate but not exemplary.

Once you find Chamberlain, his biographic page is fairly unremarkable. Just a single paragraph summarizing his career and then a few bullet points of the awards/honors he received as a basketball player. A better way to handle this would have been to have the same paragraph as an introduction and then a lengthier expose on his career exploits. Also helpful would have been more advanced pictures and graphics. A simple headshot of Chamberlain is all there is to get a view of Chamberlain. There are no action shots, no videos, no interesting snapshots of shoes he wore, balls he used, or his game worn jerseys.

Adequate but… you get the point by now.

But what’s really inadequate, and ultimately infuriating, is that does make use of some pretty snazzy visual graphics, but you’ll only find them when the HOF is trying to make money. On its homepage, three of the four prominent graphics that greet you are avenues for the HOF to make money:  the understandable “Help Support the Hall”, the inviting “Host Your Event at the Hall”, and the garrulous “Shop in the Hall of Fame Store”.

To provide a truly engrossing digital history experience, the Hall of Fame should introduce more videos, photos, and other visual effects that make the internet the wonderful time sink that it is. If they have the ability to have a scrolling ticker at the bottom of every page that shows who the HOF’s sponsors, surely a similar tactic can be taken to more appealingly present the men and women who have influenced and shaped basketball.

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