Yesterday we brought you our list of the stupidest championship trophies in sports. (Sorry, World Cup.) Today we balance things out by talking about the great ones.
What makes a championship trophy great? Well, it’s impossible to nail down an exact formula, but it’s always some combination of history, size, and pure aesthetic beauty. And of course, the more a trophy has of any one of these, the better.
So which trophies made the cut? We’ll find out soon enough. But first, let’s start off with a couple of honourable mentions…
I used to like the Champions League Trophy, known formally at the Europeans Champion Clubs' Cup. It's not particularly historic, only dating back to 1967, but it's classy and it's huge.
There is one major problem with the Champions League Trophy. As a friend of mine pointed out to me recently, the thing kind of looks like a giant urn. And unfortunately, once you see that, you can't unsee it.
So, sorry Champions League. Close, but no cigar.
Honorable Mention: The Champions League Trophy
That's right, the Heisman Trophy didn't make the list. However, before you fly into a rage, hit the cap lock button, and call me a moron, remember that we're only looking at championship trophies here. And being named the most outstanding player in college football is not a championship.
Does that mean the Heisman isn't awesome? Of course not. But it's a different class of trophy and has to be judged by different standards.
For example championship trophies should not be statues, because statues are not fun to party with. However, statues are great for individual awards, like the Heisman. And it doesn't matter how big they are, because the point is for them to look cool on your mantle, not in a team photo.
So no, the Heisman isn't on the list. Now let's see what is...
Honorable Mention: The Heisman Trophy
The Wanamaker Trophy, given to the winner of the PGA Championship, was donated by and named after Rodman Wanamaker, a department store magnate and one of the founders of the PGA in 1916. It's not huge, but then golf trophies don't have to be huge because, unlike team sports, only one person wins them at a time.
10. Wanamaker Trophy (PGA Championship)
The U.S. Open trophy doesn't have a name, which is kind of lame, but it is classy as hell. The original trophy dated back to 1895, when the tournament was first held. However, it was destroyed in a fire in 1946, and this facsimile was created in 1947.
Obviously, the winner of the U.S. Open doesn't get to keep the trophy forever. However, he does get his name engraved on the base, plus a miniature replica. So that's nice.
9. U.S. Open Trophy (Golf)
Why do I love the trophy awarded to the team who wins the Spanish Liga every year? Because it looks like a cup some Viking warrior would use for swigging ale after plundering a village. The thing doesn't have a name, but it should be called the Olaf the Impaler Trophy of Vengence.
Unfortunately, this year Atlético Madrid didn't get to hoist the actual trophy after they clinched the championship this year. The president of the league couldn't make the big final game, and because he's apparently the only one allowed to award the trophy, they had to celebrate with a replica.
Is that hilarious or what? Could you imagine such a scenario in North America? Sorry, Seahawks, no Vince Lombardi trophy for you because Roger Goodell couldn't make the Super Bowl!
8. La Liga Trophy (Spanish Soccer)
Though everyone calls it the Claret Jug, the official name of the trophy given to the winner of the British Open is the Golf Champion Trophy. Very creative, right? Anyway, much like the U.S. Open trophy, the current claret jug is actually a 1928 recreation of the 1872 original. The winner gets to hold on the trophy for the year and gets his name engraved on it. However, he does not get a miniature replica.
7. The Claret Jug (British Open)
The FA Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the world, dating back to 1871. It's only appropriate, therefore, that the winner get a super classy sterling silver trophy.
Interestingly, the trophy you see here is the third version...or maybe the fourth, depending on how you look at it.
You see, the first edition was stolen in 1895 and never seen again. The second edition was an exact replica, but was retired in 1910 so the English FA could build a bigger one. Finally, in 1911, the FA commissioned the one you see here. However, in 1992 it was deemed to fragile to use, so they put it in a museum and built two exact replicas—the one they actually use, plus a backup.
6. The FA Cup (English Soccer)
Coming in at #5 is the Wimbledon men's single trophy. And unlike the last few trophies, the one you see hoisted at the All England Club every July is the original, dating back to 1887. The gilt-silver cup is 18.5 inches high, 7.5 inches in diameter, and way better than the silver serving tray the women's champion gets.
5. The Wimbledon Trophy (Men's Singles)
The Vince Lombardi trophy doesn't have as much history as the other trophies on this list, but it is the perfect example of what a modern championship trophy should be. It's sleek but regal, it's big enough to be seen, and it's got a great origin story—apparently Tiffany & Co vice president Oscar Riedner sketched the thing for NFL commissioner Peter Rozell on a cocktail napkin in 1966. Of course, it wasn't originally called the Vince Lombardi Trophy. However, since Lombardi's Packers won the first two Super Bowls ever played, the league renamed it after him after he passed away in 1970.
4. The Vince Lombardi Trophy (NFL)
The Daytona 500 trophy was a serious candidate for the stupidest championship trophies list. However, the Borg-Warner Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Indy 500, is easily one of the greatest trophies in all of sports. Created in 1936, this thing is 5'4" tall, weighs 150 pounds, and has relief sculptures of everybody who's won it.
Seriously, you win the Indy 500, you get your face sculpted onto the trophy. How awesome is that?
3. The Borg-Warner Trophy (Indianapolis 500)
Here's some trivia to impress your friends: the America's Cup is the oldest active trophy in sports. Originally called the Royal Yacht Squadron's trophy, it was renamed not after the country but the first yacht to win it in 1851.
Of course, history ins't the only thing this trophy has going for it. It also happens to be one of the best-looking trophies you'll ever see.
2. America's Cup (Sailing)
Was there ever any doubt about this one? The Stanley Cup is the Platonic Ideal of a championship trophy. First awarded to the amateur champions of Canada in 1892, the Stanley Cup is considerably older than the NHL, which only took possession of the trophy in 1947.
Of course, originally the Cup was just a silver bowl. But over the years they added silver layer after silver layer until it became the gorgeous 34.5 pound chalice that it is today.