The Iowa Corn Growers Association’s newly commissioned Cy Hawk Trophy (above) — awarded to the victor of the annual Iowa vs. Iowa State football tilt, has been scrapped after nearly unanimous negative feedback from Hawkeyes and Cyclones fans alike.  Though admitting “trophies are tricky things to get right,” Black Heart Gold Pants’ Horace E. Cow opines, ” I’m not sure if companies should even try to attach their name to them in the first place — do you really want Cyclone fans associating their gnawing sense of failure and inferiority with Iowa’s corn farmers?”

Iowans are smart, creative people with skills that go beyond the cultivation of corn and careful scrutinization thereof, and they simply care more about the damn thing.  Let them design the trophy.

What would such a trophy have looked like? That’s the best part: I have no idea.  It would look like whatever the best idea hundreds of thousands of Iowa and Iowa State fans could come up with would look like.   It would probably not look like the very first idea that the laziest hack would scribble down in his notebook — “Iowa, corn, done” — but instead would represent something new, surprising, and impressive enough to wow a panel of judges or the voting public.  In other words, it would be, at the very least, interesting. There is a long history of competitions being used as the spur to great public art: the Acropolis, the dome of the cathedral in Florence, the British Houses of Parliament, the Ferris Wheel, the Tribune Tower in Chicago and the Sydney Opera House were all the result of some sort of competition.  The ICGA doesn’t have the budget of, say, the British government, and I don’t mean to elevate the Cy-Hawk trophy to the level of high art, but the point is that competitions do an amazing job of inspiring creativity, especially when a sense of local pride is on the line, and could be a great tool for the design of trophies in the future.