This list is compromised as Championship “Awards” as not all championships have trophies. The main criteria are levels of prestige, aesthetic, and iconicity.
10. Gentlemen's Singles Trophy / Venus Rosewater Dish
While they lack the notoriety of some of the others on this list, these have some of the most intricate designs. They not only award two awards (one male & one female) but the trophies are completely different. These timeless trophies are as much Art as they are championship awards.
9. The Kentucky Derby Trophy
Did you know that the Kentucky Derby has a trophy? While not as intricate as the awards above, you can definitely tell what this trophy is for with a horse and rider atop the golden cup. This award is the only award in US sports that is made of solid gold. The horseshoe surrounding the engraving is a nice touch. The owner wins this trophy, and three more half sized silver trophies are handed to the trainer, jockey, and breeder.
8. Masters Green Jacket
While yes, it is just a green jacket, it is a symbol of an elite group. Every golf great has donned the iconic green jacket which is steeped in tradition. The previous year’s winner awards the champion the green jacket who only gets to keep it for one year and then must leave it at Augusta. The Champion is in charge of picking the following years Champions Dinner, where all previous Masters winners enjoy the selected meal in their green jackets.
7. Larry O’Brien Trophy
Some of the most famous photos in sports has to be Michael Jordan and Kobe holding the NBA trophy. The NBA is the pinnacle of basketball trumping even the Olympics. The trophy was updated to a round base and had other minor cosmetic changes in 2022. At the end of the day, this is an aesthetically boring trophy with minimal creativity.
6. Commissioners Trophy
This is by far the worst named award on this list. The 30 flags symbolize the 30 teams and they circle a baseball at the center of the trophy. The main issue is you can’t see the baseball behind the flags as it barely bulges upwards from the trophy base. Also, we need to talk about durability. While not normally a concern, the MLB managed to craft a trophy that a thrown beer could destroy this trophy knocking out flags and bending poles. It was a good creative design but poorly executed.
5. Lombardi Trophy
The most watched annual event, the Super Bowl, has a trophy that is as iconic as it is hard to win. Unlike most sports, every playoff game is an elimination game. Besides the logo, there have been no alterations to this trophy since the very first super bowl in 1967. A new trophy is crafted every year allowing the winning team to keep the trophy on display and in their possession. While not as detailed as other trophies, there is something cool about seeing the same trophy design being lifted each year like your grandpa saw back in the early days when the AFL was still operating.
4. UFC Belt
Like the Masters Green Jacket, the Belt is a unique championship award to mainly combat sports. People don’t realize how detailed the UFC belt in particular is. Along with the leather belt being patterned in an octagon, the center has the flags of the first 8 UFC champions countries. The champion's name is engraved on a gold plate on the left side of the belt along with the flag of his or her country. Eight stones surround the octagonal gold plate, and a red stone replaces one of the stones after each title defense. The greatest part about the UFC championship belt is that a fighter can hold multiple belts at a time by winning in multiple weight classes whereas most sports can only have a single champion every year.
3. FIFA World Cup
How could I leave off maybe the most prestigious trophy in the most popular sport in the world? The trophy has stunning beauty as it depicts the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, holding up the earth. The trophy is believed to be valued to cost over $240,000 if it were to be reproduced as it is plated in nearly 5,000 grams of 18-karat gold. No country gets to keep the trophy as it is kept at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland and winning teams instead get a gold-plated bronze replica. The trophy rarely leaves the facility due to security concerns as there has only ever been two trophies ever created. Talking about security: the first trophy was pulled from the bank and stored in a box under the vice president of FIFA’s bed for security during the Nazi invasion in 1938! The original trophy was later successfully stolen but found by a dog named Pickles in 1966 and ever since has been under extreme surveillance.
2. Olympic Gold Medal
The mother of all sports and the pinnacle of the mastery of a craft on a global scale. The Olympics truly are unlike any other sport and an Olympic Gold Medal is the highest championship award a person can receive in an unbelievable number of sports from wrestling, track and field, and so much more. The Olympics have showcased a win over Nazi Ideology, civil rights activists taking a stand, and firm boycotts over global issues such as terrorism and military aggression. The Olympics have some of the greatest athletes on earth on an individual level and on a group level like the 1992 Dream Team, which is regarded as the greatest team ever assembled in any sport. Similar to the UFC, athletes are able to win multiple championships at a time with Phelps recording a record 8 championships in a single Olympic. So why isn’t the Olympic Gold Medal number one? Simply due to the fact that due to the variety of sports and competitions available, a gold medal isn’t instantly recognizable for any single sporting accomplishment.
1. Stanley Cup
The Stanly Cup is second to no other championship award by a country mile. It is instantly recognizable and synonymous with hockey. The history is unlike any other with the first engraving being from the Montreal Wanderers in 1907, which then became an annual tradition starting in 1924. This trophy was first awarded in 1892! It has lived through the depression, both World Wars, Vietnam, Korea, Civil Rights and Suffrage, and up to now with virtual reality and TikTok. This trophy is so old that every single person living on earth when this was first awarded is dead. It was 20 years old when the Titanic sank. The iconic trophy is uniquely shaped, and no award ceremony is as memorable as the players skating around the ice kissing the trophy, lifting it over their heads, and passing it to their teammates. Players also get to uniquely have a day with the trophy where they get to drink from or do what they want with the trophy. This travelling legend is unmatched in all of sports.
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