The Biggest, Most Important Sports Trophies in the World
by Brooke Brown
With the recent Stanley Cup victory of the Chicago Blackhawks, let us take a look at the recognition awards of fellow professional sporting events.
While the name of the trophy is well known, perhaps less prominent is its history. In fact, the current Stanley Cup is a replica of the sterling silver original, initially purchased by the Governor General of Canada in the late 1800s, Lord Stanley of Preston. While initially the cup was treated much like a boxing title, being passed on only once its owner was defeated by another team; it is now transferred under the auspices of the National Hockey League. While hockey is currently dominating American news, most sports have their own storied award for their most successful contenders.
For Americans, one of the most recognizable is the Vince Lombardi Trophy
, awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl. Christened in 1970 to honor the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, the trophy is 22 inches and 7 pounds of solid silver. A new trophy is prepared every year, allowing each victorious team to keep their own, a practice somewhat similar that employed by the international administrative body of soccer, FIFA.
While each team that wins the World Cup every four years gets an identical trophy, much like in American football, the
actual World Cup Trophy
is kept at all times in the possession of FIFA. This policy was enacted after the original trophy was repeatedly stolen throughout the second half of the 20th Century. In 1983, it was lost forever to thieves in Rio de Janeiro. The new incarnation, designed by Silvio Gazzaniga, is solid gold with the base wrapped in two rings of malachite, while the winners’ replicas are simply gold-plated.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous major trophies, however, are the gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded to top Olympic athletes. These were first introduced and standardized in 1904, with prior events featuring all manner of different rewards. Awards varied from just silver medals to golden and silver cups for the winners, while the ancient Greeks used weaved olive branches. The construction of the current medals is rigidly controlled by the International Olympic Committee, with proscriptions for alloys to be used, as well as minimum thickness and diameter. The design on the medals also changes for every set of Olympic Games, although almost every design since the 1920s prominently features the ancient Greek goddess Nike.
While the sports are thrilling, the histories behind their most coveted awards are often almost as long and rich as the games themselves. This adds to the excitement championship series’ lend to athletes, media, and fans alike.