Page 2's Lame Sports Trophies are back
That wasn't enough.
Like Brett Favre, lame sports trophies cannot be stopped. Like Mario Lopez's entertainment career, they cannot be contained. (Well, unless we turn the Pentagon into a national trophy case.)
Day and night, lame trophies walk among us -- trophies that shouldn't exist, that embody pride in accomplishments that don't merit actual hardware, that seem handed out for the sake of a handout, that simply look cheap and/or ridiculous.
America, of thee -- and thy insatiable hunger for tangible self-congratulation -- we sing. Presenting Part III of Page 2's Lamest Trophies in Sports:
The Gillette Young Guns Prelude to a Dream Trophy
Given to: The winner of the Prelude to a Dream dirt track stock car race, broadcast annually on pay-per-view.
Lameness quotient: High. On one hand, it's impossible to fault over-the-top commercialism in auto racing -- it's like criticizing presidential candidates for being egotistical -- particularly in an event whose PPV proceeds are given to children's hospitals and military-themed charities. On the other hand, the trophy itself is rather large. Is Tony Stewart preparing to shave the Kraken?
Fun fact: According to an event press release, the Prelude to a Dream is a "throwback race, allowing drivers to step back in time and compete for the reasons they all went racing in the first place -- pride and a trophy." Or in this case, pride and the most expensive razor cartridge refill ever.
Big 12 football divisional trophies
Given to: The college football teams that win the Big 12's North Division and South Division regular-season titles.
Lameness quotient: Very high. Not to get all Solomon-like here, but a trophy for winning half of your conference should be, you know, sawed in half or something. Further, a three-way tie for the Big 12 South title in 2008 meant that three of the six schools in the division -- Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (pictured above) -- received a trophy. Presumably, five of the league's 12 teams received one for 2010: Nebraska and Missouri shared the North Division title, while Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M shared the South Division title.
Fun fact: After Nebraska defeated Colorado last month to clinch a share of the Big 12 North title, the conference declined to present the trophy due to safety concerns.
The Golden Boot
Given to: The winner of the annual college football game between LSU and Arkansas.
Lameness quotient: Moderate. From 1906 to 1936, LSU and Arkansas played each other on a yearly basis, yet never felt the need to immortalize the clash with an enormous golden gewgaw that wouldn't be out of place in King Tut's tomb. That all changed with the 1996 introduction of the Golden Boot, a trophy created to: (a) celebrate the schools' nascent SEC rivalry, which began when the Razorbacks joined the conference in 1992; (b) take advantage of relatively low commodity prices, given that it's impossible to make a trophy out of crude oil.
Fun fact: Made from 24-karat gold, the Golden Boot is made in the shape of the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, stands four feet tall, weighs roughly 175 pounds and is reportedly valued at $10,000 -- well, unless you're Glenn Beck, in which case it's more like $10 million, just as soon as the dollar collapses under hyperinflation and the zombie apocalypse engulfs us all.
Reader comment: Says Jeramy from Arkansas, "The Boot's only claim to fame -- which is repeated in every article written about it -- is that it is believed to be the heaviest trophy in college football. That's right, the trophy's only distinction will end as soon as two Midwest schools start playing for the Unusually Large Watermelon Trophy."
The Paddlewheel Trophy
Given to: The winner of the annual college football game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Lameness quotient: Very high. Never mind that until Cincinnati joined the Big East in 2005, the two schools had played each other only four times in 84 years; instead, just look at the thing. Surplus game show set prop? Abandoned Dadaist student art project? Control panel for working steampunk time machine? Your guess is as good as ours.
Fun fact: The school logos on the face of the trophy actually light up, thanks to a portable battery power supply.
Fun Fact II: The trophy's steel river cutout was heated and treated to achieve a desired effect of looking "aged and rustic" from years on the Ohio River.
Fun Fact III: More than 175 man-hours of design and labor reportedly went into creating the trophy. Only that long?
Reader comment: Says Eric from North Carolina, "I'm from Pittsburgh and a huge Pitt fan, but the Paddlewheel Trophy is "If I Did It" by O.J. Simpson dumb."
The Big Fish
Given to: The winner of the 2003 Bass Pro Shops 500 auto race.
Lameness quotient: Stratospheric. On appearance alone, the Big Fish -- note: the trophy doesn't have an official name, so we gave it an unofficial moniker -- would be both appropriate and pretty darn awesome as a professional fishing trophy. Alas, it was awarded for winning a car race, which would be the equivalent of giving the winner of the National Spelling Bee the Stanley Cup.
Fun fact: In the photo, Bobby Labonte is not actually contemplating: (a) a home equity loan, the better to build a home addition to display the Big Fish; (b) the most appropriate way to welcome his new gilled overlords. Even though it really looks like the latter.
The Governor's Victory Bell
Given to: The winner of the non-annual college football game between Penn State and Minnesota.
Lameness quotient: Orbital. The trophy itself is unremarkable. Problem is, the same can be said of the air-quote rivalry behind it. Introduced in 1993 to commemorate Penn State's first Big Ten game -- coincidentally against Minnesota -- the Governor's Victory Bell celebrates a game between two programs that lack any sort of intrastate/border war animus and don't even play each other every year. Why not a pointless Pittsburgh Steelers-Minnesota Vikings trophy while we're at it?
Fun fact: The Big Ten's recent expansion will place Penn State and Minnesota into different divisions, which means the schools will only play each other twice every five years. Is it possible to water down water?
Reader comment: Says Dan from Philadelphia, "If there's no real rivalry, then the trophy is meaningless." Um, Dan, are you sure you aren't talking about the Land Grant Trophy?
The 2006 Paris Masters Open Trophy
Given to: The winner of the 2006 Paris Masters Open tennis tournament.
Lameness quotient: Indeterminate. We're still trying to figure out why the champion of a prestigious French tennis event would receive a leftover garden shrub from the opening credits of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
Fun fact: The trophy has
been further melted down for scrap artistically evolved in recent years, as evidenced by Jo-Wilfred Tsonga's 2008 victory.
Reader comment: Says Prashanth from North Carolina, "I would almost feel ashamed to hand that to the winner of the tournament." Almost?
The Really Big Bear
Given to: The winner of the 2006 Bass Pro Shops 500 auto race.
Lameness quotient: Not applicable, because lame isn't the right word. More like terrifying. To everything we said about the Big Fish, add the following: Do you really want a trophy that looks as though it might eat you, your pets and everything in your house that isn't made of granite?
Fun fact: On his official website, 2006 Bass Pro Shops 500 winner Tony Stewart says, "When I started racing competitively when I was about 7 or 8, getting a trophy that was bigger than the other kids' was all I cared about." Mission accomplished!
Reader comment: None, but thanks to David from Orlando, Fla., for the heads-up.
The Bones Trophy
Given to: The winner of the annual college football game between Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis.
Lameness quotient: Very high, in part because the trophy is a bronzed, 100-pound rack of ribs, in part because neither Chili's nor Tony Roma's has demonstrated the marketing sense to sponsor the game. Hello?
Fun fact: The game -- dubbed the Battle for the Bones -- also features a barbecue cook-off between supporters of each school.
The Open De Moselle Trophy
Given to: The winner of the ATP Open De Moselle tennis tournament held in Metz, France.
Fun fact: The Open De Moselle tournament went on hiatus from 1997 to 2003 -- roughly the same period between the release of "Alien 3" (1997) and "Alien vs. Predator" (2004). Hmmm ...
The Monster Mile Trophy
Given to: The winner of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Helluva Good! 200 race in Dover, Del.
Lameness quotient: Helluva high! The trophy is based on raceway mascot Miles the Monster; apparently, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic held out for too much endorsement money.
Fun fact: Dover International Speedway is home to a 46-foot-tall statue of Miles the Monster, which sports glowing eyes and qualifies as one of the largest fiberglass structures in the nation. You know, if you're keeping score.
The Pearson Cup
Given to: The winner of the season series between baseball's Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos.
Lameness quotient: At least as high as the top floor of Toronto's CN Tower. Between 1978 and 1986, the Expos and Blue Jays participated in an annual midseason exhibition game to raise money for minor league Canadian baseball; after Major League Baseball adopted interleague play in 1997, the two clubs continued to compete for the Pearson Cup, a coveted trophy that ... zzzzzzzzz. Look, Toronto and Montreal have a healthy rivalry, but it extends to baseball as much as the Los Angeles-Boston rivalry extends to soccer. Wake us when the Maple Leafs and Canadiens are dropping the puck.
Fun fact: The Cup was named for former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, a passionate baseball fan who later served as the Expos' honorary club president. Silly Canadians: Don't they know you run a baseball team first, and then run your country?
The Platypus Trophy
Given to: The alumni organization representing the school that wins the annual college football game between Oregon and Oregon State.
Lameness quotient: Beyond comprehension. For one, the trophy depicts a platypus, an animal indigenous to eastern Australia. Not Oregon. (What, was a Koala Bear too dark and menacing?) More to the point, a trophy can't be cool if the teams that play for it don't want it. True story: the Platypus Trophy was created in 1959. Lost in 1961. Totally forgotten for more than four decades. When it was found in 2005, athletic directors for both schools took one look at the trophy and declined to use it. If it walks like a Beaver and quacks like a Duck, it's probably too lame for words. (You can see actual photos of the trophy here and here, courtesy of the University of Oregon.)
Fun fact: From 1964 to 1968, the trophy was used to commemorate water polo victories between the two schools.
Fun fact II: In 1986, the artist who created the trophy found it in the trophy case at Oregon's Leighton Pool; after he failed to persuade the football team to readopt the trophy, the pool and its trophy cases were demolished in 2000.
Fun fact III: The trophy was rediscovered in 2005 in a closet at Oregon's McArthur Court, home to the school's basketball team.
Reader comment: None, but thanks to Robert from Seattle for the heads-up.
Patrick Hruby is a freelance writer and ESPN.com contributor. Contact him at PatrickHruby.net.