As David Duval can attest, the British Open's claret jug is a nifty piece of hardware. However, in an obsessively commemorative age when even the third-place team in an over-70 Tuesday-night hoops league gets a showy mantelpiece anchor, tasteful sports awards are rare. Here's our roundup of the good, the bad and the just-plain-heinous sports trophies.
THE STANLEY CUP
Sure, it's been used as an ashtray, a planter and a urinal, and at three feet high and 34 pounds it's hefty, but with its instantly recognizable profile, it's the most enduring symbol of triumph in sports.
Designed by New York City sculptor Frank Eliscu for the Downtown Athletic Club in 1935, the statuette for college football's highest honor has been mocked and hawked. Still, it remains sports' classiest trophy for individual achievement.
Trophy Elegant yet simple—Tiffany designer Oscar Riedener made the original sketch on a napkin—this sterling silver award is that rare bird: an understated sports trophy.
The oldest continually contested trophy in sports, the eight-pound silver cup drips with the ornate, old-money look favored by patrician yachtsmen from Kennebunkport to Hilton Head—which might explain why, in 1997, a Maori activist smashed it with a sledgehammer.
THE COMMISSIONER'S TROPHY
When Seinfeld's George Costanza tied the World Series trophy to the bumper of his car and dragged it around the Yankee Stadium parking lot, it was fitting treatment for this gaudy bauble. The ostentatious signature of Commissioner Selig on the base completes the Bud-ugly package.
College football's championship award features a Waterford-crafted crystal football that takes three months to create by hand. The result is as tacky as a cubic zirconia necklace shilled on the Home Shopping Network.
Cast in 1971 from Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga's design, this ridiculously shrimpy (14-inch) gold sculpture was described by SI writer Clive Gammon as resembling "something that grew from a spore that drifted in from outer space." Plus, shouldn't the world's most coveted sports cup be, well, a cup?