The winner of the British Open golf championship lifts the fabled Claret Jug.
The champions of the NFL get their mitts on the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The best team in Ice Hockey is awarded with a trophy with a glittering history, the Stanley Cup.
And the champion of the UAAP gets... um, er, what exactly?
The UAAP and NCAA Men's Senior Basketball competitions are two of the most eagerly anticipated and followed sports events in the country. And yet neither hands out an iconic trophy to its champion. Instead, the host school gives out a new trophy every year. It's time this practice changed.
I remember the 2002 UAAP season when the Ateneo Blue Eagles won in dramatic fashion. I went to the celebratory bonfire and had my picture taken with the winning trophy. I don't recall the details, but I do remember it being rather nondescript. Not unlike a trophy that a company might give out for its office bowling tournament. And not fitting for such a hugely popular sporting title.
This in contrast to my close encounter with the William Webb Ellis trophy last April. This is the Rugby World Cup trophy, and for the press con of the Volcanoes at the Asian 5 Nations Division it was on display. The International Rugby Board was sending the gold cup all over the world for fans to see it, because it was a true symbol of excellence for the game.
I cradled it and got the tinglies thinking of all the great players, like Sean Fitzpatrick, John Eales, and Francois Pienaar who had hoisted it after winning the tournament. This is what a famous trophy can do for a real sports nut.
In the Philippines we don't do history very well. We tear down old buildings to make way for malls. We forget traditional dances and songs. We don't bother much with museums. And our sense of history and tradition is also lacking when it comes to sports.
We need to honor all those who have come before. Permanent trophies for our top collegiate leagues would be one way.
The UAAP and NCAA have rich histories spanning generations. A trophy that is passed on from winner to winner will be a touchstone that ties all of the champions together in one historic thread. It will also add even more prestige and luster to what are already terrific competitions.
Ideally, the trophies should be named after folks who have made a profound and lasting impact on the leagues. For the UAAP, that person is Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan. "The Maestro" may be better-known for his exploits as a PBA coach with Crispa and Great Taste, but he also steered the University of the East Red Warriors to twelve UAAP crowns, a record that will probably never be beaten. Seven of those twelve titles occurred consecutively from 1965 to 1971, a streak that Ateneo is chasing now as they go for their five-peat.
One name also stands out for me as a prime candidate on the NCAA side: Carlos Loyzaga. "The Big Difference" led San Beda to back-to-back championships in 1951 and 1952 then went on to an illustrious pro career. He also led the Philippines to a bronze medal in the 1954 FIBA World Championship.
The fact that both of these gentlemen are still alive would only make the honor even more special.
The host team can still issue a simple trophy that the winning team can keep in its cabinet forever. But the permanent trophy must stay with the winner and be relinquished when they are no longer champs.
I'd make the trophies with several panels at the base, one for each member school. Then the years when they won the championship can be engraved into each panel.
If it were up to me, the trophies would weigh about 60 pounds each and be about four feet tall. It takes a team, not one player, to win a championship, it should also take a team to lift a championship trophy.
It's high time that our country's premier College Basketball titles come with a tangible and historic symbol of success. It's time to make the Baby Dalupan and Caloy Loyzaga trophies a reality.