Warts and All

by | November 30, 2011, 6:16am 0

It’s time for Hall of Fame voting again and with it, the annual debate over Kenny Dobyns.  The question of in or out is simple: he should be in.  Kenny was the leader and best player on one of ultimate’s great dynasties.  Currently representing those dynasties are Teens, Glo, Moons, Hollinger, Seegar, Pat King and Danny Weiss.  Kenny’s absence is glaring. 

Far trickier is how to handle Kenny’s less than stellar record of Spirit of the Game after he is inducted. No description of his career will be complete without a discussion of the controversies and legacies of Kenny’s and NYNY’s approach.  The HoF is a means to promote our sport and preserve its history.  Preserving history should imply inclusion, not exclusion.  Inclusion here doesn’t mean just putting Kenny in the Hall, it means putting in all of his career: the good (11 rings) and the bad (poor SotG).  This would be a change for the HoF.  The bios for all of the current inductees are quite sanitized and present the Hall of Famers in only the most glowing terms.  For many of the current inductees, this is great and wholly appropriate.  But not for Kenny.

Ken Dobyns makes a scoring grab in the World Ultimate Club Championship final for New York versus Double Happiness. Madison, USA. 1993 - Photo by Toby Green

As I go back and re-read Kenny’s writings on the debate surrounding his 2009 HoF bid, I come away disappointed by his total unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions.  When you behave badly (and there is ample proof Kenny did) you have to accept the consequences of your behavior.  It’s wonderful if you can handle them gracefully, but if you can’t, then say nothing.  For me, this is personal.  My own behavior as a player was often very flawed and I am still stumbling over the rubble I have left behind.  I am grateful when old foes are able to forgive and bury the ax. But when they aren’t able to bury it, when I get ripped on line for things that happened eight years ago or someone avoids making eye-contact when I see them at a tournament or bitterly (so bitterly) discuss a ancient game-to-go to Nationals, I don’t complain because I made that bed.  I’ll lie in it.  Kenny’s mistake was to see his legacy under attack and he tried to defend it, using the same pugnacious disregard for the consequences he used as a player.  What he didn’t see is that the very thing he was attacking was his legacy.

Put him in, warts and all.


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