Aug 24, 2011 at 01:40 PM
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When Sponsorship Feels Forced. Did Corn Growers Cross the Line?

Several new football trophies have been recently announced leading up to the college football season, but none have been met with such scathing criticism as the Cy-Hawk Trophy, awarded to the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State football game. The trophy sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association shows a dad kneeling and holding an ear of corn as he speaks to his son and his wife, who is holding another child with more corn spread out in front of them.

"The farmer, family and corn is all wonderful, but I don't really get the relationship to a football game," Iowa football legend and former Hawkeyes coach told The Des Moines Register.

Sports business experts seem to be pointing to this as a case of 'forced' sponsorship activation. For its part, officials seem receptive to the fan feedback.

"We're taking in both positive and negative comments and digesting it for now and we're going to follow up later this week," Mindy Williamson, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Corn Growers Association told The Associated Press. "We're not turning our heads to this, we're taking it in and listening and trying to figure out what's best."

The Iowa Corn Growers Association and school officials from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University plan to hold a news conference on the topic today ESPN reported.


Update: Iowa State issued a press release stating that the trophy will be redesigned and this time, voted on by the fans. The full release below:

The audience (media and on-lookers) at Tuesday’s Cy-Hawk Football Trophy news conference seemed relieved after officials said that a new trophy is in the works. It has been a difficult week for many folks associated with Iowa’s corn industry. These hard-working, honest people felt run-over by a flood of negative publicity about the football trophy. People were disappointed with the creation that was collectively produced by the athletics departments, their multi-media rights partners and Iowa Corn.

The question quickly became “how can we turn lemons into lemonade?”

The answer was, start over with the creative process and give the passionate football fans in the state a chance to participate. The fact that some of you care enough to express opinions is what makes this rivalry fantastic.

Concepts for a new trophy are being gathered. Voting on new designs will begin relatively soon. I hope you stay engaged and be a part of the process. Being a critic is easy. Helping find a solution is a bit harder, but more satisfactory. #newstag