On July 31, Major League Baseball's trading deadline, many big trades occurred, including two deals involving "future Hall of Famers" Ken Griffey jr. and Manny Ramirez. During the same week, there were many stories on the sports pages concerning "future Hall of Famer" Brett Favre.
Such references to athletes as "future Hall of Famers" is not at all uncommon in sports coverage, be it in the newspaper, on sports radio shows or sports television shows. Heck, I've done it myself, even referring to former baseball player Andre Dawson as a "should be Hall of Famer" a while back, in a not-so subtle dig at the Baseball Writers of America for not already electing "the Hawk."
I've been rethinking things, though. Who are any of us to call somebody a "future Hall of Famer?" Only someone who has psychic powers really knows that someone will be in the Hall of Fame. Things happen - just ask "future Hall of Famers" Pete Rose, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.
Election to a Hall of Fame, whether it is an HOF for a sport or for any other activity, is meant to be an honor, and those who are fortunate enough to be among those few who choose inductees for such a prestigious honor really don't need the extra pressure placed upon them by the media calling somebody a "future Hall of Famer" during the twilight of his/her career and beyond.
Though the qualifications for election to most Halls of Fame are arguably vague, and many past selections and omissions have been questioned, I think the bottom line is - if someone is meant to be selected for such an honor, it will happen - eventually. It just may not happen right away - for a variety of reasons.
So I, for one, am making a resolution that I will never refer to anyone as a "future Hall of Famer" again, and the only references I will make to an athlete or musician as a Hall of Famer will be for those who have already been elected and inducted as such.