Moral ques­tions for halls of fame


Bob He­witt’s re­moval from the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame is ques­tion- able.

He­witt, an in­ter­na­tional player from 1958 till 1983, won nine Grand Slam dou­bles ti­tles and six Grand Slam mixed dou­bles ti­tles.

He was also a good enough sin­gles player to reach the Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nals three times, and the Wim­ble­don quar­ter-fi­nals three times, and to help South Africa win the Davis Cup in 1974.

The tem­per­a­men­tal He­witt was Aus­tralian, but moved to South Africa af­ter mar­ry­ing a South African in 1967.

He­witt was de­servedly voted into the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame in 1992, but his mem­ber­ship was sus­pended in 2012 af­ter he was charged with sex­u­ally mo­lest­ing young stu­dents he was coach­ing.

He has now been ex­pelled, hav­ing been found guilty of rap­ing un­der-age girls, and is serv­ing a six-year jail term in South Africa.

Yet the Ten­nis Hall of Fame al­lows the mem­ber­ship of Bill Tilden to stand.

Tilden was a great player, some say the great­est.

How­ever, he was jailed in 1946 for hav­ing sex with a 14-year-old boy, and again in 1949 af­ter a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent. Re­gard­less, he went into the hall of fame in 1959.

Should halls of fame be moral watch­dogs?

The In­ter­na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame will not ad­mit Cincin­nati Reds leg­end Pete Rose be­cause it tran­spired Rose bet on games he was in­volved in.

Rose holds many ma­jor league records, in­clud­ing for most hits and games played, and won three World Se­ries ti­tles. There is still heated de­bate in the United States about his hall of fame ex­clu­sion.

Far­ci­cally, the World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment Hall of Fame, which in­cludes all the big pro wrestling names, has ex­pelled Hulk Ho­gan (Terry Bol­lea).

Ho­gan, in­ducted in 2005, was ejected af­ter he said ‘‘nig­ger’’ in a broad­cast, even though he was ac­tu­ally quot­ing what some­one had said to him.

The In­ter­na­tional Boxing Hall of Fame has never both­ered about moral niceties.

There­fore sev­eral mur­der­ers, in­clud­ing mid­dleweight champ Carlos Mon­zon, are in there, as is con­victed rapist Mike Tyson. No­to­ri­ous promoter Don King, who has killed two peo­ple, is also in.

We’ve wres­tled with this is­sue in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame ex­pelled Cook Strait swim­mer Keith Han­cox af­ter he

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was jailed for steal­ing mas­sive amounts from the Sports Foun­da­tion, which he was run­ning.

Han­cox, an orig­i­nal inductee in 1989, was cho­sen for his swim­ming feats ac­cord­ing to his ci­ta­tion, but his non-swim­ming crime got him ex­pelled.

Later another in­au­gu­ral inductee, soft­baller Kevin Herlihy, was jailed for fraud to­talling $145,000. The hall of fame man­age­ment de­bated the Herlihy is­sue and this time voted, al­most unan­i­mously, he should re­tain his mem­ber­ship.

Where should halls of fame draw the line?

My feel­ing is they should be about sport. Fac­tors un­re­lated to sport should be ir­rel­e­vant. How­ever, clearly they aren’t.

Oth­er­wise, for ex­am­ple, why has Bruce Tay­lor, once New Zealand cricket’s lead­ing test wick­et­taker and the scorer of a record­break­ing test cen­tury, never been se­ri­ously con­sid­ered for the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame?

Years af­ter he fin­ished play­ing, Tay­lor, the bur­sar at John McGlashan Col­lege in Dunedin, was jailed af­ter steal­ing $360,000 from the school to feed his gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

Did that fall from grace mean he had been any less of a crick­eter?


Bob He­witt, once a ten­nis great, but now a jailed rapist.

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