From the time players receive little plastic participation trophies as children, a trophy is something that can represent a wide variety of feelings and accomplishments. Professional sports are no different, either. Some trophies have an identity of their own, a story behind them, and a certain prestige that comes along with their role in each year’s championship. While one might be a household name the other may only be a smaller part of a bigger tradition.
Everyone loves hoisting a trophy above their head regardless of what sport they win it in, but some trophies hold more weight, tell a bigger story, and mean a little more than others do.
4. The Commissioner’s Trophy
Baseball is, perhaps, the sport that is least enamored with the hardware that comes with winning a championship. The players win the rings and the trophies that other teams win, but at the end of the day, the championship itself seems to be the greatest takeaway. When people think about players past and present, they do not necessarily think about them hoisting the trophy as much as they do the fact that they won it.
The trophy has a different design than a typical trophy, with a circular ring of pins representing every champion. It might come to the surprise of baseball fans, however, that the trophy wasn’t introduced until 1967, which may lend itself to the fact that the trophy itself adds little to the prestige of the World Series.
3. The Larry O’Brien Trophy
Basketball analysis presents a strange crossroads between individual accolades and team success. Its stars tend to be among the most recognizable in sports, and even the bench players get a little bit more attention than those who are in the NFL.
Part of this is due to the smaller roster sizes, but basketball is increasingly marketed as a player’s league, and because of this, rings reign supreme, and while they are handed out in every sport, they don’t hold the same weight as they do in the NBA.
The Larry O’Brien Trophy is just as much a part of the celebration at the end of each NBA Finals, but ask any NBA player what they won and they will immediately talk about rings instead of trophies. The trophy, which boasts a golden ball atop a stand, is an attractive trophy that teams proudly parade around town every time they win, but the rings will always have the longer impact.
2. The Vince Lombardi Trophy
The Super Bowl is the premier event in American sports. Billions of people across the world tune in every year to see who is going to be crowned, making it the biggest spectacle of any major sporting championships. It is a single game, so there are higher stakes than the playoff series of other sports. Not to mention, the halftime show and commercials add an event that’s almost akin to an award show more so than a championship game.
However, anybody who has watched the Super Bowl knows that one of the highlights of each Super Bowl is the end of the game when the trophy is paraded in front of the winning team as players try to touch it for the first time.
This makes it a special moment, even if the game itself seems bigger than the trophy. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is also perhaps the second-most recognizable trophy in sports, but only one championship trophy can reign supreme.
1. The Stanley Cup
The NHL may be the fourth most popular sport in the United States, but its trophy is the most prestigious of the bunch, and it really isn’t close. After all, none of the other championships have permeated the national lexicon like the Stanley Cup. It’s large, weighing 35 pounds, and its huge design makes it so that players who win have to raise it above their head with two hands.
Adding to the importance of the trophy is the communal aspect. It is awarded to a new team every year, and players on the winning team can all spend time with it as long as they have a babysitter in the process. The Stanley Cup is embedded into the DNA of the NHL, and no other trophy comes close to its prestigious history.