I wrote this last weekend about the foolishness of dumping a Cy-Hawk trophy with 30-years of history, created by fans, for a corporate advertisement. The trophy revealed by the Iowa Corn Growers today is even worse than I imagined. It is nothing but an advertisement.
Here's 4 questions the local sports reporters SHOULD be asking:
1. Why create a new trophy in the first place?
Everyone seems to assume this was a response to the appearance of the old trophy. Was it?
2. Why not simply redesign/refresh the existing trophy?
If this was just a cosmetic issue, why not refresh the look while maintaining the 30-year history of the Cy-Hawk? Other rivalry trophies have been "updated" over the years.
3. Why did they choose a corporate sponsor and how much did Iowa Corn pay?
None of the major rivalry trophies in college football have corporate sponsorships. What made the Iowa and ISU Athletic Departments decide to seek one and how many pieces of silver did it take?
4. How long does the Iowa Corn sponsorship last?
This is a key question. Hy-Vee paid for certain naming rights in 2004 and renewed in 2007, whereby officials began referring to the "Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series." It's unlikely Iowa Corn's sponsorship is forever, and it's hard to imagine another sponsor embracing an image of a family gathered around corn. We must expect this trophy to be junked whenever their sponsorship ends.
This whole chain of events exemplifies the polluting effect of sponsorship. Many people thought the old trophy was ugly. But what is not in dispute is it was created by fans whose sole intention was to promote this then-fledgling rivalry. Even if Iowa Corn's trophy had looked better than it does, it was never intended purely as a celebration of the game, but always as a promotional tool for their industry.