Sunday, April 22, 2012

If you build it, sometimes they won't come

While planning for a summer vacation in July, it was interesting to discover on a road map being a big fan of the sport that a stop at the National Soccer Hall of Fame could be a distinct possibility on the way.

That is, if there were still a National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Over the years, I had heard (albeit vaguely) of a physical hall of fame building for soccer in the United States, located in a town called Oneonta, N.Y., on Interstate 88.

As it turns out, more investigation confirmed it no longer exists. To little fanfare in 2010 - during the World Cup, no less - the National Soccer Hall of Fame closed its doors, quietly packed its belongings and sent them off to different parts of the country. The biggest reason? Apparently hardly anyone cared. They still induct a Hall of Fame class every year, but there's no museum in Oneonta.

To be honest, it came as a bit of a shock. In any popularity contest, soccer in the United States would probably in a best-case scenario have a fighting chance at fourth. That's just the way it is.

But consider what we regard as "tourist destinations" here. There are such luminaries, with all due respect, as the world's largest teapot, located in Chester, W.Va., and the TV tower for station KVLY in Blanchard, N.D., the third-tallest structure in the world and tallest in North America.

(And by the way, while I can honestly say I haven't visited the KVLY tower, you have to see this video of a worker doing repairs on the tower since it got a cheap plug.)

Anyway, it is amazing a National Soccer Hall of Fame couldn't develop more of a fan base. It's a shame, because it's a good idea that obviously did not go as planned.

- Chris Lillstrung


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