Most athletes take part in sport not because they want to participate, but because they want to win at all costs. Some are better at that than others, but it binds them together as a unifying identifiable trait.
The hunt for glory, success and fame are what fuels so many sporting professionals to do their job. Sure, money matters a great deal, too, and it does make a real difference to their endeavour - after all, nobody likes to work their socks off for a pittance, but it's often an innate sense of catapulting towards something palpable that entices most of all.
Ending a season having achieved a long-term goal, by beating a personal best or with a cherished accolade in the prize locker - these are the objectives most top pros aim for throughout their careers time and time again. It pushes them to go the extra mile in training, it gives them something positive to work towards and it incentivises them to keep pushing towards achieving the best form of themselves they possibly can.
Sounds pretty exhausting, right? That's because it is.
However, sometimes there are awards, honours and goals that don't really add up; accolades that don't quite have the same appeal to them as would be hoped. These are the ones we'll be focusing on in this particular list. Some would even go so far as to call them 'useless' or 'pointless' gongs, ones that are just there because of television companies, arbitrary statistics or even due to the media.
Cropping up to sate the appetite that absolutely every single aspect of sport must be celebrated, there is an argument that the following awards are in existence purely to fill column inches, air time and the pockets of the super rich (though that certainly doesn't apply to all 15).
Interested to find out what will feature along the way? Scroll on down to find out and don't forget to sound off in the comments section with your own thoughts.
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14 Lady Byng Award
For those of you who don't know what this award is for, let's get the definition out of the way first - it's given to 'the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.' Wait, what? Gentlemanly conduct in one of the most brawl-infused sports around? OK, then.
There has been quite a deal of criticism from various quarters in the past that the trophy isn't as respected as it supposedly should be, especially considering the personal history of the woman it's named after. But, considering they already have the Hart Memorial Trophy for the NHL's MVP, it's sort of hard to stomach this one.
14. The Golden Bagel Award
Sport is all about competition. When two opposing forces come up against each other on the pitch, court or track the neutral always wants to witness an entertaining battle. However, it doesn’t always happen that these battles end up being so closely contested. And so we have the Golden Bagel award. Set up in 2004, the accolade is awarded to the player to have racked up the most amount of sets won 6-0 on the tennis circuit.
Only players ranked in the top eight or in the end of year ATP World Tour Finals are eligible to be considered to receive this award. In truth, it’s a fun enough award, but it is pretty pointless because it doesn’t particularly prove anything. Normally, when a player wins it, it's considered as an afterthought because the only real recognitions that matter in the Grand Slam world of tennis are the number of tournaments or matches won throughout the year.
13 ESPY Awards
Down through the years, the ESPY Awards have come under some fierce criticism from a number of different quarters. Most recently, there was some unnecessary uproar regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s capture of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Whether one agrees with the decision to present her with the award or not, the fact remains that there are people in the business who believe she deserves it. So, how do the ESPY Awards fit the bill as pointless?
Well, although some of the honours are clearly more relevant than ever before, others are more than a tad derivative. Take the MLS Player of the Year Award for example. Sounds a bit like the MVP Award, doesn’t it? Robbie Keane became the first Irishman to win the award, but it just mimics what he’s already won. The same can be said of their NBA Best Player Award. In truth, the whole show is in need of a revamp before the pointless awards take over from, and obscure, the ones that do mean something and that do really matter.
12 BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Once upon a time this was just the one award handed out to an individual to honour an astounding achievement in the world of sport. It used to last around 45 minutes, but now it is a huge spectacle for television that seems more interested in drawing big audience members than it does in sticking to the point. Most of the qualifications rely on how well the nominees have captured the imagination of the public, how much of an impact they have had or how great an impression they have left over the course of the past year’s sporting landscape which, to be fair, relies a bit too much on gut feeling than statistics or facts.
Of course, it is great to see some underappreciated and normally under-celebrated teams and sports personalities given a night to celebrate some wonderful feats of heroism and athletic might, but one gets the impression that much like the ESPYs, some of the awards are just a bit forced. Take the main prize itself – up until 2007, only seven of the recipients had come outside of England. Although the winner must generally come from Great Britain, England has often dominated proceedings a little too much down through the years.
11 Golden Boy Award
Launched by Italian newspaper Tuttosport back in 2003 this particular award is given to the most impressive young player in Europe, although now there are several big publications involved in the decision. There have been 12 winners to date and the first player to receive it was Rafael van der Vaart who was plying his trade with Ajax at the time. Since then, the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli have all taken home the honour. Most recently of all, of course, Raheem Sterling won it in 2014.
At first glance, this seems like a fairly innocent prize, but again it’s nothing but a bit of pomp and ceremony that offers little in the way of substance. Sure, it's something to boost the confidence of certain younger players, but it doesn't do much but over-indulge in frills and compliments for these youngsters before they have really achieved a lasting legacy.
10 RTE Sport Awards
It might have redeemed itself to a certain degree over the past number of years with certain improvements, but Ireland's national television broadcaster's annual awards show (modelled a bit too closely on the BBC Sports Personality Awards) isn't exactly the most prestigious or anticipated of all time. Lacking a certain glitz and glamour, the production values take away from an already dull event for the most part.
Add this to the fact it's main award, the Sports Person of the Year, values the exploits of male athletes far more than it does that of the hard-working and successful female sport stars and it's clear that it's relevance is clearly lacking a certain amount of necessary value. Alarmingly, since 2001 only one woman - boxing legend Katie Taylor - has taken home the primary gong, evidence of just how biased its selection process really is.
9 The Golden Foot Award
There are niche honours to hand out, and then there is the Golden Foot Award. It's premise sounds pretty cool; gathering together all the famous footprints of some of the greatest soccer stars of all time, it aims to celebrate and preserve the boot-wielding legends who helped make the beautiful game an aesthetically pleasing sport to behold, but hold up - it only pays homage to footballers aged 28 or above? And one can only win it once? Huh?
Located on the seafront of the Principality of Monaco, it's far more of a tourist attraction than it is a classy commemoration of sporting genius and skill. Yes, some of the best players have been presented with it, but it remains a pretty pointless achievement considering the winners have usually already won so much more fascinating and awe-inspiring events that this one really pales in comparison, to say the least.
8 The Friendship Trophy
It sounds like something you get presented with at your school's local sports day, doesn't it? Undertones of condescension accompany the name as an award given to the try-hard young athletes who only take part because they have to. The reality is a bit more competitive than that as it involves two professional football clubs currently plying their trade in the Premier League, but it's nonetheless a very underwhelming accolade.
Contested by both Sunderland and Norwich City, it's never going to be remembered as one of the most sought-after prizes in world football, but at least it does ensure that these top-flight minnows are guaranteed the opportunity to regularly compete for silverware. Still, though, is there really any need for this? Not particularly.
7 UEFA Best Fans Award
Okay, so it's not exactly the worst award on our list as it does offer some joy to the fans, but it's not as if anyone is fighting over it either. Handed out pretty sparingly by most accounts, it seems to have been fashioned as a result of pressure put on the European football governing body to give certain teams something to celebrate.
More specifically, back in 2012 it was awarded to the Republic of Ireland fans after their memorable support of their country's dismal European Championship display which saw them eliminated from the group stage with no points to show for their efforts. The FAI might have had a word or two with the head honchos because before you knew it, the Green Army had a consolation "prize" to cherish. It kept some people happy, but it's not as if it erased the memory of what actually happened on the football pitch. Similarly, the 'Best Fan' award handed out at the Globe Soccer Awards is along the same lines.
6 The Lanterne Rouge
There have been some pretty pointless awards on our list already, but this one really pushes the boat out. I mean, when one loses a tough and testing battle that takes weeks or even months to prepare and get into shape for, it's normal to want to curl up in a ball, stay out of the limelight and just forget the whole experience - just ask Ronda Rousey after her shocking UFC defeat to Holly Holm. The Lanterne Rouge doesn't allow for much forgetfulness, though.
Often distributed (not physically) to the rider who finishes in last place at the end of a stage, it doesn't exactly celebrate the athletes, and it puts them under a spotlight not many would like to experience. That said, others seem to think that it's a testament to the athletes who refuse to give up because it shows that they can outlast those who drop out or are disqualified along the way. We're still on the fence, here.
5 La Liga's Trofeo EFE
Another football award now and this time it's Spain's Primera Division that makes an appearance. Presently, La Liga plays host to some of the best players in the modern game, and with Real Madrid and Barcelona two of Europe's giant superpowers continuing to boss their way around, it's generally a joy to watch them play against pretty much anybody.
This particular reward is given to the best "Latin" player and it's no surprise that 16 times from the previous 24 seasons have seen a player from one of these two clubs take pole position. In truth, it's a pretty niche level and is yet another example of just how weirdly multifarious sport awards have become.
4 FIFA Ballon d’Or
Okay, hear us out before you jump down to comments section with a torrent of abuse (heard it all before, by the way). The idea behind the award is fine to most (although Jonathan Wilson has described it as "toxic"); find the one player who is most widely acclaimed by his peers and competitors and give him the title of world’s best player for a year. Most of the time you’d imagine it’s sort of difficult to argue against it, although most people manage to muddle along to find a way to bash Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar Jr. whatever the final outcome.
What’s a little more difficult to swallow is the actual ceremony itself. The appeal of watching the best footballers in the world strut around in weirdly unfashionable suits as they caress each other’s egos sort of takes away from it all. By all means celebrate the players who make the game beautiful but do it a little more subtly, eh? After all, arguably the most impressive thing about the whole event is the fact that Kate Abdo (the presenter in 2014) can speak fluently in at least four languages. That’s something else to celebrate.
3 Le Prix de la Combativé
Cycling makes an appearance on our list here with this award, variations of which are given during a number of different tournaments. Often courted by controversy and drama, the world of cycling has garnered its fair share of critics (particularly in recent years with drug scandals, allegations and corruption the staple diet of many journalist’s news pieces).
This particular prize is given to the rider deemed to be the most combative throughout each stage of a competition, but it's value doesn't seem to shine as brightly anymore with all the allegations of substance abused that keeps on cropping up throughout the world of cycling. An interesting but equally strange one.
2 Finnish FA Footballer of the Year
Really? Is there much need for this one, guys? No offence to the level of football in Finland (which is pretty decent by all accounts), but it really seems difficult to imagine exactly why this award needs to exist. Historically, there have been more than a few nifty Finnish footballers knocking about, but a quick look at just how the distribution has been over the last few seasons gives a real indication as to just how defunct it has become.
Since 1992, only six different players have taken it home with Jari Litmanen and Sami Hyypia winning it a total of 18 times between them, which just goes to show how dominated it has become by the same old faces. If ever there was evidence that more competition is needed before people start getting celebrated for winning something this is surely it. Either that or there is something seriously flawed with the selection process.
1 MMA Ring Girl of the Year
You just know there are far too many awards floating around the world of sport when something like this pops up to add to the pile. Given out by the US-based Fighters Only magazine each year since 2008 it's link to the world of sport is tenuous at best.
In truth, it's a bit of an outmoded part of the MMA-sphere and its easy to see why it's only a matter of time before it's axed to join the now defunct 'Most Memorable Ring Entrance' award that was distributed for a number of years. But for now, people are sure to fawn over the glamorous girls who take centre stage during intervals at fights.
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