Back in the day, before advanced telecommunications and social media, championship trophies were pretty practical. With sports record-keeping spotty at best, the only way you could prove that you were, in fact, the champion was to bust out your trophy.
Today things are different. Today, we do not really need championship trophies. If you win, everybody knows it, and it gets recorded in a thousand different databases. Hoisting a shiny object above your head does not make it any more official. But of course, we still like our championship trophies because, for fans and athletes alike, they symbolize and even embody the achievement.
Unfortunately, not all championship trophies are created equal. Some of them are iconic works of art with histories as rich and fascinating as the sports themselves, while others…well, you know…they suck.
In a few days we’re going to take a look at the greatest trophies in sports. However, today we’re going to take a look at the worst.
So let’s get started, shall we?
We've talking about championship trophies, here, and only major ones at that.
What counts as a "major championship"? Frankly, it's easier to say what does not count: high school basketball state titles, local bowling leagues, pro golf tournaments you've never heard of, and, last but not least, random college football rivalries. There are a lot of really stupid trophies out there, but here we're only concerned with trophies people actually care about.
So with that said, let's get started with the actual list...
A Primer on Eligibility
I realize there are probably people out there who love the Larry O'Brien trophy, and I'll admit that it does have some good qualities. For example, it's shiny, which is nice. It's also big but not too big, and named after somebody important. That's why I put it at #10 instead of #5.
However, the more you look at it, the more you realize it's not so much a trophy as it is a sculpture. Andit's a weird sculpture at that, with the oddly shaped net and the gigantic base holding the whole thing up.
I'm not saying it's a total disaster, but it could have been so much better.
10. Larry O'Brien Trophy (NBA)
Is it just me, or does the Grey Cup look like a sad attempt to resemble the Stanley Cup? Don't get me wrong, the actual Cup at the top is perfectly nice. It's the base that's the problem. The Stanley Cup sits on top of an all-silver base that is proportionate to the size of the bowl on top. The Grey Cup sits on top of an odd cone-shaped base made out of painted aluminum.
It didn't always look this dumb, though. Back in the 1950s, the trophy was still pretty sharp. It wasn't until 1987 that the CFL introduced the goofy-looking thing they have now.
9. The Grey Cup (Canadian Football)
Here we have an instance of an otherwise decent-looking (though unremarkable) trophy being ruined by one bad element. And I'm guessing I don't even have to tell you which element I'm talking about...though I will tell you. It's the handles. They're just terrible, aren't they?
8. Philip F. Anschutz Trophy (MLS)
The green jacket you get when you win The Masters is awesome. The trophy, though, is really, really lame.
Of course, I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of people reading this didn't even know The Masters had an actual trophy. But they do. The real trophy is a five-foot wide silver replica of the clubhouse at Augusta National, and when you win you get your name added to it. However, in 1993, they started giving miniature replicas of the trophy to all the winners.
As trinkets they're pretty nice, I guess, but as trophies they suck.
7. Masters Trophy (Golf)
This isn't a trophy. It's something you find in your grandma's curio cabinet, right next to a miniature statue of a sad hobo clown.
Is it pretty? Of course it is. But Monets are pretty, too, and nobody's using a painting of water lilies to commemorate a college sports championship.
The good news is that 2014 was the last year we'll have to anxiously watch giant football players handle this $30,000 crystal football. Next year the NCAA will introduce an entirely new stupid trophy for the new College Football Playoff.
6. The BCS Trophy (College Football)
There are many qualities to look for in a championship trophy, but perhaps the most important for a team sport are size and holdability. You want it to be big enough so that it doesn't get dwarfed in a team photo, and you want people to be able to hold it and carry it around without breaking it or, you know, impaling themselves.
The Commissioner's Trophy looks nice enough. But it's very awkward to hold because, like the Larry O'Brien Trophy, it's more of a sculpture than a trophy.
Also, it's called The Commissioners Trophy. Couldn't they have named it after somebody?
5. The Commissioners Trophy (MLB)
"Well boys, in recognition your great achievement—finishing in first place in one of the most prestigious soccer leagues in the world—we present to you this giant golden funnel. Congratulations!"
The funny thing is, while this trophy has been around since 1961, they didn't present this trophy to the winning team out on the field util 2004...probably because they knew it was so stupid.
4. Coppa Campioni d'Italia (Serie A)
The David Cup is the greatest team tennis competition in the world. Unfortunately, the trophy is just ridiculous.
Now, if you take each of the two main elements on their own, they're totally fine. The bowl on top is shiny and fancy, and the base looks pretty cool too.
The problem is that they are so completely disproportionate. Whether you say the bowl is way too small for the base, or the base is way too big for the bowl—either way, this thing just looks silly.
3. The Davis Cup (Tennis)
The only thing FIFA got right with the World Cup trophy is the material. (It's 75% gold.) Everything else sucks.
For one thing it's way too small for a team sport, and way too small for an event as huge as the World Cup. You gather the winning team around it for a photo and good luck even finding this thing. It really does need to be at least twice this size.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, it's ugly.
The basic design is nice enough. Two people holding up a globe? There's symbolism there, I get it. But the texture is awful. It looks like somebody molded the thing out of aluminium foil and then painted it gold.
It's not a suitable trophy for the most-watched, most-belovd sporting event in the world.
2. The FIFA World Cup Trophy
Whether it's men's basketball or women's softball, all NCAA Champions get this same stupid wooden plaque they call a "trophy."
Now, I realize that it would be inappropriate to hand out ornate trophies made out of precious metals for college championships. But surely they could do better than this. It's just embarrassing.
1. Every NCAA Championship Trophy
2014 FIFA World Cup, championships, MLB, NBA, NCAA, Trophies,