If you’ve seen my columns the past couple months, you might have noticed my wife and I have cut way back in our traveling.
This is partly due to the weather, but primarily because of the upsurge in COVID-19 cases. It’s impacted plans, big and small. We had scheduled a get-together in Oregon with my in-laws, which we had to scrap.
There were a couple baseball card shows I was interested in attending. One was in St. Louis County, but it was canceled by tight restrictions there.
We avoided the other, in Poplar Bluff, for the exact opposite reason. The card show’s website gave no information on any COVID-19 safety protocols, which led me to think they don’t have any. Sealing my decision not to go was the promoter of the show going on Facebook and asking attendees to each bring five people they know.
Yeah, that’s a hard pass. Despite being in Middle America, Missouri seems to have little middle ground on COVID-19 restrictions (like, maybe, let smaller events go on but limit attendance and require masks).
Alas, we finally hit the road Christmas weekend, heading to see my family in Texas. Since my mom and dad live about an hour apart, we had a couple small gatherings.
Most of the time was spent with family, but we did take a little time to visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame in nearby Frisco, Texas. One of my odd quests is to see as many sports, and even non-sports, halls of fame as I can.
Hall of Fame Fanatic
I’ve been to the big ones, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Hockey Hall of Fame in a Toronto mall. I’ve been to some slightly lesser museums like the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
I’ve been to some obscure halls of fame like the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum and National Wild Turkey Calling Hall of Fame, both in rural South Carolina.
I’ve even been to the same hall of fame in multiple cities. I went to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in 2007, and in Atlanta in 2017.
I also went to the Bowling Hall of Fame in 2006 in St. Louis and after it moved to Arlington, Texas, a few years later. The biggest difference I noticed was it no longer let you roll the ball a few times on a regulation lane, like it did in St. Louis. Now you can play on a mini-bowling alley as much as you want (at least they did several years ago when I visited).
Apparently, cities compete for these halls of fame. I’m not sure why, since both the college football and bowling halls were pretty sparsely visited when I went in both their new and old locations.
While Texas has been on the “winning” end of luring halls of fame from other cities, the Lone Star State has seen heartache as well. My father recently sent me an article from Atlas Obscura about the Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum moving from its location in Plano, Texas. It was supposed to move to Arizona but no record could be found of the new location.
Sadly, I didn’t get to visit the Cockroach Hall before it closed.
I didn’t get to the Soccer Hall in its former location in Oneonta, N.Y., before it closed in 2009. So my first visit was our recent one to the new hall, which opened in 2018 in the stadium used by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.
It was a nice museum; the $15 admission fee was reasonable. It asks you to schedule a time to visit in advance as a COVID-19 precaution, but that hardly seemed necessary. We were the only ones there when we arrived (and this was on a Saturday afternoon).
It had some cool interactive features, like a large video screen that uses facial recognition to put you in a situation where you are virtually taking penalty kicks or bouncing the ball off your head. I still prefer playing with a real ball, but considering COVID-19 risks, this was a nice substitute.
The most fun interactive feature was a photo green screen that you stand in front of, and it puts you in the middle of photos of well-known soccer moments. Afterward, they emailed me the photos and other virtual activities I took part in, which was a nice souvenir.
One of the cool things about the Soccer Hall is it’s a rare sports museum where women are on equal footing with men. That has a lot to do with the U.S. Women’s National Team seeing much greater international success than its male counterparts.
All the Women’s World Cup trophies the U.S. has won are on display. There are also lots of jerseys and other memorabilia from players who are either American or spent time playing in the U.S., ranging from Pelé to Megan Rapinoe.
There’s also a foosball table featuring U.S. women’s players. My wife crushed me in the game, though I blame it on one of my players missing.
They even had a jersey from the most valuable player season of my favorite player, Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers.
Touring the Soccer Hall of Fame was a fun way to spend an hour. Even if you aren’t addicted to halls of fame, I’d recommend visiting if you are in the Dallas area, especially if you have kids interested in soccer.