Monday, June 30, 2008

Whacked with the Ugly Stick

Since we have plenty of time ahead of us to indulge our more obscure interests, and since when the PBR finally starts up again we will be in a dead run for the finals in Las Vegas and probably won't have two seconds to ourselves for the duration, I wanted to take up a matter that has long puzzled me, to wit: Why are the trophies handed out at the highest levels of professional sports so damned ugly?

For starters, the National Hockey League has the Stanley Cup:

You can tell that the photographer tried his best to light the trophy nicely, what with the heavenly light in the upper left hand corner and all, but tell me truthfully—don’t you think it looks like an upside (albeit silver-plated) travel cup, the kind that collapses back on itself? Why did anybody think that was a good idea?

Then we have the Vince Lombardi Trophy, courtesy of the National Football League, and named for he who famously said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” though there is some dispute about who first coined that phrase. Check it out:

It looks like some kind of doodle the CEO did on a napkin and nobody had the guts to tell him it sucked. I think they should give that to the LOSERS of the Superbowl and give the winners gift certificates to Lone Star Steakhouse. They’d be better off, believe me.

Then we come to the trophy handed out to the winners of the National Basketball Association season:

I really cannot figure out what in hell is going on here. Is that supposed to be a basketball about to fall through the basket? Why is the ball so damned big? What angle would you have to see the action from for it to look like that? Toss it in a wastebasket, I say.

I am not a NASCAR fan for a whole bunch of reasons, and this trophy, awarded to the winner of the Dayton 500, only enforces my attitude:

That is truly lame—it looks like it was designed by a bunch of rednecks who’d been drinking beer at the shooting range all afternoon. Is it supposed evoke one of those turntables car dealers used to have in their showrooms, where a car would revolve endless while admiring would-be buyers looked on? And what’s with those tacky little name plates? At least they ENGRAVE the winning team’s name on the Stanley Cup.

Aside from the ones that I just can’t make any sense out of, my main objection to all these monstrosities is that the proportions are all screwed up. The best of the bunch is probably the America’s Cup, which harkens back to the classic days of trophy design, though even it is too tall for its own good:

It may look like a syrup pitcher (with a great big reservoir below it), but at least it’s not totally top heavy or just indecipherable. In other words, you can tell it’s a trophy, not something somebody found in a junk yard, polished up with an SOS pad, and dragged down to the arena at the last minute.

Compared to these, the PBR’s trophy doesn’t look completely horrible, but it’s still no orchid. Here it is in the company of the current title holder, your very own Justin McBride, Miss Shannon. If you can’t bear to look at his face, just cover it up with your hand:

My main objections to this thing are that it looks like a soup pot, and those bulls on the handles are beyond ridiculous. At least, with the pseudo-belt buckle on the front, they’ve got that Western silversmith thing going on, because if it didn’t have that, it would look like a big punch bowl for serving the ginger ale and sherbet (“sherbert,” where I come from) drink they always served at weddings when I was a kid, because of course we were all too pure to drink champagne, or maybe for holding your mamma’s fruit salad that she makes every Thanksgiving under the delusion that people like it, when in fact they won’t touch it with a barge pole. If she's anything like my mamma, she makes enough to feed Coxey's army and you'll be bumping into it in the refrigerator for weeks, until somebody finally surreptitiously throws it out.

Or maybe it looks like (truth be told) a chamber pot, which is ironic in the extreme considering that the dude who wins walks away with $1 million. At that moment, he couldn’t be accused of not having a pot to, er, you know, in, or a window to throw it out of, though I’m not at all convinced that these guys are particularly prudent with their winnings and he could be broke before he turns his back on Vegas. (Ruby would phrase it, “didn’t have a pot nor a window,” so as to get the meaning across without sullying her reputation for clean speech.)

Of course, the biggest problem we’ve got with all these butt-ugly objects is, we’re stuck with them. It’s like nobody can admit the original design was a mistake. No, it's worse than that, it’s like nobody even TALKS about it. Can it be possible that they have no idea? I'd prefer to think that, but in my heart, I just can't believe it.

So please, folks, reconsider. Even big billion-dollar corporations retool their images once in a while. Given the relative ugliness of these trophies, I am the first to admit that there are a bunch of professional sports organizations that should do that before the PBR does, but it wouldn’t hurt the bull riders to be ahead of the curve for once.


shannon said...

I don't watch many sports at all, so I wasn't aware of what almost all of those trophies looked like. My goodness--why is it that people think bigger is better? I agree with you, the proportions are awful! While looking at the pictures, I found myself wondering the same thing I do when I see a truly awful tv commercial: "Someone actually signed off on this?".

As an Olympic fan, I must say that I much prefer medals. I've been lucky enough to see two (one from Australia, 2000 and one from Athens, 2004) and they were simply beautiful. Too bad they couldn't just stick to those.

PS. I think Justin has a handsome face--as long as it's a still shot and not him making a conceited comment, I can handle it ;)

Stockyard Queen said...

Yes, it's usually what comes out of his mouth that makes me not want to look at him again for a while. I agree about the medals--I've not seen any in person, but they look really beautiful on TV, around the necks of muscular diving boys.

Jenny Miller said...

You coulda included all of boxing's belts, which revel in their own blinged out wretched excessiveness.

Stockyard Queen said...

You're right, and I also thought about talking about the buckles they hand out to the PBR winners and to rodeo champions, but I decided to stick with trophies, mostly because the belt thing would mean I'd never finish carping on the subject. I wonder if those belts are real, or if they're made of plastic and gold foil?

Jean said...

Oh lord. I had no idea such tacky trophies existed. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The Nascar trophy looks like a cross between a naugahyde ottoman and a beer keg. That can't be coincidental. I have a raft of reasons for disliking NASCAR, one of which is The Hooter's Cup (I wish I were joking).

About a million years ago I worked in a hospital pathology lab. We got all kinds of tissue specimens and even the occasional foreign object removed from patients. One day I got a call to come to the lab to see a specimen that had just been removed from a patient in the E.R. The specimen bucket was on the counter with the lid on. Upon the specimen slip was the description: "Object removed from anus." One of the techs opened the lid and there stood a basketball trophy with a glittering golden basketball perched delicately upon the fingers of the upraised arm. I wish I was joking about that too, however, possibly this explains why the trophies are out of proportion. Nothing small enough for the average pinhead to stick in their ear or whatever.

Stockyard Queen said...

I wish you were making it up, too. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!

shannon said...

"I wish I was joking about that too, however, possibly this explains why the trophies are out of proportion. Nothing small enough for the average pinhead to stick in their ear or whatever."


I know you're not kidding because I've found a website that doctors and nurses can vent on.

Ow, indeed.

Oh, and I agree the buckles aren't that great looking either...

Anonymous said...

I agree that the NASCAR is the worst! But the rest are questionable. I wonder whose bottom the basketball trophy was removed from--the winner or the loser?

Some of the most beautiful trophies are from tennis and golf. Some are silver trays which are always useful for serving champagne. Plus they would be easy to hang with a plate hanger. But, I really love the ones made from glass or maybe crystal. Nice. But then, I do enjoy the finer things in life.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Did you see the Wimbledon trophy today? Cool! AOL had an article showing pics of the Williams sisters with all of their Grand Slam trophies. Everything from real trophies to Crystal bowls to Silver and gold platters. Really pretty and GRAND!

Anonymous said...

Hey! Did you see today's Wimbeldon trophy? On AOL, there's a photo journal of the Wiliams sisters with all their Grand Slam trophies--eight each--and they are gorgeous! Silver and gold trays, regular silver trophies and crystal bowls! Grand! Made me think of "Just like a bull in a China Shop," for the PBR trophy. How 'bout a crystal bull?

Jean said...

Hey FlashofBlue!! You made it! If it was the winner's bottom, I'd have to wonder if the loser is still running.

My personal favorite trophies are the ones from equestrian events. Stick a beautifully sculpted silver, gold or crystal horse on it and I might even like the NASCAR ottoman/beer keg style trophy.

They use the silver tray style trophy a lot in riding events too, but for me to truly appreciate those, they'd have to have a well drawn horse engraved on them.