Joe Louis, Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Donald Hutson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Carl Lewis, Mia Hamm. All sports legends born or made great in Alabama. Not to mention the equally famous coaches, Bear Bryant, or John William Heisman, father of football’s most famous trophy. All are enshrined in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame; over 300 inductees showcasing 6,000 items of memorabilia since it began in 1967. Every year, eight inductees get a plaque and a showcase of memorabilia. The ASHOF has no permanent collection; each inductee selects his/her own memorabilia and can get it back at any time.
Scott Myers was a three-season high school athlete, played football at nearby Samford University, and spent a year in missionary work with street kids in Costa Rica, before returning to Birmingham for a career in sports administration, the last eight as Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Among the biggest changes he’s seen, “America’s pastime was baseball; now it’s football. Alabama has a long baseball history, but it’s now a football state. Collegiate basketball is big, but collegiate football drives all of college sports. The upside of collegiate football is huge. It is the front porch of the universities. It is the revenue producer that enables all of the other sports to happen.” At the time of our conversation, University of Alabama was ranked #1 in college football.
Scott spearheaded the effort to bring the 2021 World Games to Birmingham, only the second time they have been held in the U.S since their inception in 1981. “The World Games are sports at the highest level that are not included in the Olympics, for example certain gymnastic styles and Lacrosse. We will host 4,000 athletes from over one hundred countries in 35 sports.” Unlike the recent Olympic bid in Boston, which faltered for lack of public support, the City of Birmingham is fully behind this endeavor “We did two economic impact studies; the numbers work fine. We partnered with Samford, UAB and Alabama Southern to house the athletes, we don’t have to build any new venues.” Birmingham has a huge stadium, Legions Field, that’s already seen world class action: as a soccer location during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. “This is a great opportunity for the city of Birmingham to represent the country.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“It’s a great question. I don’t think we spend a lot of time thinking about how we will live tomorrow. What will sport look like tomorrow? Just as football took over baseball in the later 20th century, what will the sport of the future be? The athletes have changed. They are bigger, stronger, more adapted to their sport.
“My fourth grader plays football. On the way to practice he asked if people could have superpowers. I told him we only use a small part of our brain, maybe 10 percent. If God let us use 12 or even 15 percent, we could have more powers.”