MORGANTOWN — It seems these days in sports what happens after you score has become far more highly anticipated than what you do to score.
Posing is in.
Think about the U.S. Women’s World Cup victory this week. After the first goal they scored against the Netherlands via star player Megan Rapinoe on a penalty kick, she ran to the corner of the field, stood there arms outstretched, chin up, a smug look on her face.
It is the stuff legends are made of – and statues.
Forget the politics for a moment. That may have a role, but this is the sports page, your escape from the never ending pounding of the political surf that is eroding our shores.
Poses have become the in thing to do, as much as mass celebrations. And in this neck of the woods we are very much in tune with such posing.
See this was a good week for our own favorite son, the great Jerry West, who counts among his nicknames “The Logo.”
That was hung on him when the NBA created the logo it now has in use. It was 1969 and the NBA was battling the ABA for dominance in professional basketball. The league went looking for a logo and Allen Siegle of Siegle + Gale Brand Consulting was going through “Sport” Magazine and came across this photo of West that had everything they wanted.
And so it was adopted, although the league wasn’t about to acknowledge that it was West as it wanted the logo to stand for its industry, not for an individual.
So why, after 50 years, have they not changed the logo?
Maybe because it’s among the most identifiable in sports and generates more than $30 billion in revenue a year for the league.
Elsewhere on these pages today there is a story about another iconic sports pose, that of the Heisman Trophy. We noted that should Jalen Hurts win this year’s Heisman, it would give Oklahoma three consecutive quarterbacks winning the Heisman Trophy.
As trophies go, the Heisman is probably the most recognizable if not the most famous, with the Stanley Cup probably holding that honor.
But where did the Heisman Trophy pose come from, that of a ball carrier striding down the field, his arm extended in the straight-arm position.
What, pray tell, is the story behind that pose that debuted in 1936?
Ed Smith was a running back at New York University — which long ago gave up football — back in 1935 when he was asked by a former high school classmate, sculptor Frank Eliscu, to pose for the statue.
Oddly — and we offer this only as an interesting aside — they both had attended New York City’s George Washington High School, which my father attended around that time.
Odder yet, Smith did not realize the sculpture he had posed for in 1935 had become the Heisman Trophy until 1982, long after his career had ended. A triple-threat tailback in NYU’s single-wing offense, he was drafted in the third round of the first NFL draft with the 20th pick.
According to Wikipedia, a documentary filmmaker tracked down Smith through his brother-in-law, Bob Pastor, a former heavyweight boxer who fought Joe Louis twice. The Downtown Athletic Club subsequently presented Smith with a Heisman Trophy of his own in 1985.
Just six years after the Downtown Athletic Club, which sponsors the Heisman Trophy, presented Smith with his own Heisman, Michigan’s Desmond Howard scored on a long punt return against Ohio State and, in the end zone, went into his now famous Heisman pose.
That the pose wasn’t correct didn’t matter, for it became the symbol of the trophy at that moment.
So iconic was it that it even overwhelmed one of Keith Jackson’s greatest play-by-play calls of his Hall of Fame career. The pose – not Jackson’s word – lingered on in football history.
Photographer Brian Masck took the famous photo of Howard posing. He filed a federal lawsuit against Howard claiming copyright infringement as Howard had benefited financially from the use of the photo.
In the end, they settled with Howard owning rights to the photo but having to pay royalties to Masck for its use, who also was to get credit for taking the photo.