Oregon Sports Hall of Fame
The Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was founded in 1978. The organization started out small; without staff or budget, it was literally just a group of extremely dedicated people. In 1980 that group selected the first class of inductees. Membership drives, board recruitment and annual induction ceremonies followed, still with no paid staff or funding base. The Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (OSHFM) gained strength and stature, in these early years, as a volunteer organization.
The OSHFM hired its first paid staff person in 1985. Exhibits were built through volunteer labor and donated materials. By 1990, the Hall of Fame was generating revenues of more than $100,000, with annual attendance of 5,000 visitors. Although small in scale, this was a successful beginning; and it marked the organization’s commitment to gradual growth based on thoughtful planning and fiscal conservatism.
A Strategic Planning Committee was formed in 1990. After careful investigation and wide-range discussion, the committee concluded that increased visibility was the most important variable in the long term health of the organization. By becoming more visible and accessible, the OSHFM would better fulfill its education mission, while building a greater financial base which to continually improve programs and other visitor services. On the recommendation of the Strategic Planning Committee, the Board of Directors approved relocation and expansion as the most important and immediate goal for the OSHFM in that same year.
After an extensive fund raising campaign, the Hall of Fame secured $1.2 million in private funding to build what was considered to be one of the best sports museums in the country.
In the beginning, the Hall of Fame’s sole purpose was simply to preserve a rich legacy of athletic excellence in the State of Oregon. As the organization grew and evolved, the purpose evolved as well. The purpose today is best described by the Hall of Fame’s mission statement as follows:
To recognize and appreciate Oregon’s rich athletic history. Our goal is for this legacy to inspire participation in sport and foster awareness of the values and life-long rewards gained from this participation.
The organization is built on the premise that the lessons of sport have a tremendous impact on society. Sports provide a unique opportunity for self-discovery. This is especially true for children, who learn about their physical capabilities, confronting both physical and mental challenges everyday in practice. With proper guidance, they learn that hard work and perseverance bring results. They will inevitably experience defeat, but with sound coaching, they will learn that defeat is only a lesson, and that success and recognition are earned by effort. Sports also provide an unregulated opportunity for all kinds of people from greatly differing backgrounds to interact with and enjoy each other. The lessons of sport provide valuable guidance in the quest for a happier, healthier and more productive life.
The Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum subscribes to the principle that sport serve society’s highest ideals. By educating youth, through sport, it promotes the virtues of competition, fair play, friendship, solidarity, mutual understanding and respect for human dignity. These principles are identical with those enshrined in the Olympic Charter and was a motivating factor in bringing this exhibit to Oregon.
A major component of the Hall of Fame’s educational emphasis is the high school scholarship program which annually awards six $2,000 scholarships. Since the program’s inception in 1984, we have awarded over 120 scholarships to outstanding student-athletes. Recipients are chosen from nearly 400 applicants for having best met the governing criteria of the selection process, which includes academic achievement, athletic accomplishments and financial need. This valuable program has enabled fine student-athletes to attend a variety of Oregon schools while beginning a lifetime of lasting accomplishments.
Preservation of history, regardless of the discipline, is extremely valuable. It identifies the people, the challenges and the triumphs of the past. It provides insight into the human spirit and offers understanding as to how the Hall of Fame evolved. Additionally, it provides an appreciation that the people before really provided the foundation for the opportunities the Hall of Fame enjoys today.
With the understanding of how important history is to society along with the value of sports in society, the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum takes its responsibility to pass this knowledge along the youth of Oregon. A major challenge we are faced with is the powerful sports entertainment industry.
Throughout the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, children are exposed to the message that hard work and dedication pay off in more ways than just becoming a famous athlete or making a lot of money: their experience in the museum instills a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in life.
In mid-2008, the museum was closed, due to corporate expansion needs of the museum’s landlord. The Hall of Fame and Museum’s extensive collection of exhibits and memorabilia is currently packed away in a warehouse in S. E. Portland. The Hall of Fame is actively seeking new space in the Portland area, with a plan to reemerge with a sports-themed restaurant and bar partner, as well as with a broadcast partner, as a reinvented historic, cultural and entertainment destination.
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