Trophies are a topic of some controversy in NCFCA. One of the great aspects of the early National Opens were the individualized trophies, especially the Opens hosted in Region 3. However most of these tournaments also included speeches by the national leadership discussing the fleeting nature of trophies.
As a theological question, the point is sound: a trophy should not become an idol.
Yet trophies are distributed, and therefore must also serve as an acknowledgment of achievement.
These speeches always refer to the "box" or even boxes of trophies which have accumulated over a student's career. Of course this is true for the handful of families in NCFCA who dominate competition at the highest levels (including the talented and dedicated children of the national leadership). Yet for every family at the top, there are 10 families who have never been to Nationals, never will go, most of whom complete their careers with an empty box. Is it really a moral failing to try to steer a trophy or two to those competitors who peak at semis/double-octos?
The trend in NCFCA, consistent with the rhetoric, has been to reduce the number of trophies. The National Opens began the trend by substituting medals for trophies some years back. At the Texas Nationals a major step was taken when the triple octofinalists were given paper certificates. At an after party, this was excused by some as an expediency of the moment, the two triple-octos teams being unexpected breaks. Yet was this an accident? The trend was significantly expanded at the South Carolina nationals where paper certificates were created at the podium for some of the lower breaks -- despite the fact that the very highest breaks got large, oversized trophies.
Rumor has it that in NCFCA '09/'10, trophies will be banned at all tournaments below the level of Regionals.
This policy paradox fails to understand a basic element of human nature: desirability is stimulated by scarcity. If there was really a problem with coveting trophies at NCFCA tournaments, the solution would be to spray trophies over as much of the field as possible & thereby make them seem cheap.