IT’S HYPE, HYPE, HURRAH FOR HOOPLA HALL OF FAME

I’m starting my own hall of fame. For hoopla. I call it The Hoopla Hall Of Fame. It will be truly amazing and unbelievably fantastic.

All the BIG NAMES will be in it. You know. The sports heroes the media have decided you cannot live without for more than five minutes.

William (The Refrigerator) Perry will be in my Hall of Fame, posing with a GE Frost-Free. Boris Becker will be there, too. Right next to Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.

Plan on seeing Patrick Ewing. And the Jacksons, Reggie and Bo. Also, anyone who plays in New York City, Peter Ueberroth, Michael Jordan, and, of course, Joaquin Andujar, in the special padded walls section.

We will have a big Grand Opening. Don’t miss it. Mary Lou Retton will dedicate her special wing, and we will give out paperweights shaped like her teeth. Doug Flutie will deliver the keynote speech: “How To Become Really Big And Still Shop In The Junior Department.”

The gala event will be covered by every newspaper, magazine and TV station

in the country. Naturally. The key word in the Hoopla Hall of Fame is overexposure.

Anyone whose name you hear at least 75 times before lunch is an automatic candidate. Clippings count double

Of course, we are selective at the Hoopla Hall of Fame. Not just anyone can be truly amazing and unbelievably fantastic. Only those who are truly amazing and unbelievably fantastic.

Here are some criteria: First, the candidate must weigh in. His stack of newspaper clips must exceed 100 pounds or forget it. People magazine must have done at least one story about him. And USA Today must have run a picture of him with his wife, or at least his dog. Ditto for Sports Illustrated, Sport, Inside Sports, Forbes, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and MAD. Larry King must have mentioned him in his gossip column.

Groupies don’t hurt. Neither does an ABC “Up Close And Personal” segment. Something with a theme song from “Beverly Hills Cop.”

We must know what kind of food the candidate likes, especially if he weighs more than 300 pounds. Also his favorite rock groups, whom he is dating, and the first time he knew he was going to be a REALLY BIG STAR. We must know how the candidate handles being a REALLY BIG STAR. Can he still go out to a restaurant now that he is a REALLY BIG STAR? We must know this. And pictures. We must have pictures. Roughly as many pictures as Viking II took of Mars.

A good candidate should make a guest appearance on “Diff’rent Strokes.” Or at least “Punky Brewster.” Talk shows are also important, especially David Letterman. Becoming a David Letterman joke is almost a free pass.

Just ask Buddy Biancalana. He’s in.

Of course, not every athlete can meet the tough Hoopla Hall of Fame standards. Maurice Cheeks will not be there. Nor will Tony Gwynn, Jose Cruz, Pam Shriver, James Wilder or Steve Jones.

These are talented people. But as Tina Turner says, “What’s Talent Got To Do With It?”

Tina Turner, by the way, can get in anytime she feels like it. There’s even Humble Howard

Our voting procedure is similar to the Baseball Hall of Fame, for which candidates must wait five years. In The Hoopla Hall of Fame, you must also wait. A full five minutes. It takes at least that long to do a radio spot.

Speaking of which, there will be a special broadcaster’s wing of the Hoopla Hall of Fame. Jimmy the Greek will be there. So will Warner Wolf, Brent Musburger and that guy from ESPN who messes up people’s names. The piece de resistance will be an edible, life-size statue of Howard Cosell, made completely from cold cuts. Baloney, most likely. Or maybe ham.

Check out our special “Inanimate Objects” wing, featuring the 14-inch Heisman Trophy and the ever-popular Ratings Point.

And, of course, the special memorial section for those sportsmen who were once truly amazing and unbelievably fantastic but somehow lost it. Carl Lewis will be the featured exhibit. Bill Lee, T.C. Chen, Joe Pepitone, Duane Thomas, Jim Valvano, Bill Johnson, Mark Fidrych, Howard Schnellenberger, and the entire 1984 Olympic Hockey Team will be there, too.

Which is all the more reason to come visit the hall quickly, before we have to rearrange all the statues. Ticket prices? Don’t worry. It’ll be worth it! It’s great! And what if it isn’t? Since when does anything live up to its hype?

So run, don’t walk. You will not want to miss the opening of my Hoopla Hall of Fame.

Then again, maybe you might. After all, remember our motto: “If you’re not sick of hearing about them, they’re not big enough.”

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