In the era of participation trophies, it’s hard to understand why anyone would stop giving out an award at all, but there are some major award ceremonies that have removed entire categories in one fell swoop. Sometimes it’s because there’s no more reason to give it out (the “best Disco” category in the Grammys only lasted 2 years because duh) and sometimes the award is so tarnished by its recipient so that it becomes a PR disaster. Here are five major awards that are no longer up for grabs, even if you really really want to win one.
The Juvenile Award at the Oscars
Way back in 1931, little Jackie Cooper (who would later be the reason for child actor laws protecting their income from unscrupulous handlers) was nominated for a Best Actor award. He was nine years old. He lost to Lionel Barrymore, a much older and, honestly, better actor. But someone decided that denying kid stars an award was a bad look, so the Academy created the Juvenile award, aka the “Oscarette,” a half size copy of the actual statuette. Meant specifically for actors under 18 years old, the Juvenile award was given out sporadically for around 25 years; the first one went to Shirley Temple in 1935 and the last one to Hayley Mills in 1961. Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, and Mickey Rooney were also recipients of this award. The award is no longer given out mainly because of two reasons: first, they implemented the “best supporting actor/actress” categories, and second, young actors were seen as genuinely competitive rather than token winners, so now when they’re nominated, they’re up for a full-sized statue.
The Art Competition at the Olympics
Believe it or not, from 1912 to 1948, in addition to the usual running, jumping, and throwing competitions, the Summer Games also featured an art competition, complete with medals ceremonies. There were five categories: music, painting, literature, architecture, and sculpture, and the works were to be “inspired by sport.” However, there was one major flaw in this arrangement: whereas the Olympic competitors were required to be amateurs (and removed if they were caught in any professional capacity), many of the artists were professionally so (one winner of the architecture category for the 1928 Olympics had submitted the plans for the stadium designed for that same Olympics). The irony of professionals competing in an event glorifying the competition of amateurs was not lost on many, and the competition was last held during the first post-WWII games, in London in 1948.
The Polka Category at the Grammys
In 2011, the Grammy awards was a mess. Category overlap and redundancy paired with outdated genre listings made the list of possible awards way too unmanageable even for music producers, so the Grammy committee instituted a major overhaul of categories to streamline the whole thing. Among the changes they made that were least controversial was the combination of best male and female performance categories, so now in each music genre there is a single Best Solo Performance category. But one of the most controversial changes in the program was the elimination of entire category of Polka music. What had once been a category so popular that whole television shows like “Lawrence Welk” were devoted to it had become something of a niche market. Most mainstream coverage of Polka was relegated to some kind of humor aspect, or in connection to Weird Al Yankovic (whose father won a Grammy for his Polka performance). Needless to say, those who unironically call Polka their genre lost their last mainstream symbol of recognition. Time alone will tell if accordions will come back into style.
The Pulitzer Prize for Telegraphic Reporting
The Pulitzer Prize is the most prestigious award a journalist can receive. Newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer left money in his will for the establishment of reporting awards, beginning in 1917; the Pulitzer Prize awards include 20 honors of $15,000 each and one public service award which earns the famous gold medal. But as media has changed over the years, so has the award, and there are now categories for online journalism as well as print. But one original award is no longer offered, for the exact opposite reason: the technology is discontinued. Believe it or not, when you hear about “wire service” reporting it was originally on an actual wire, that is, a telegraph. In the days before telephones were everywhere, the telegraph was the fastest and most reliable way to get information across long distances, particularly in conflict points around the globe. So there was once a Pulitzer prize for telegraphic reporting, and no doubt the people who won this award deserved a gold medal of their own.
The Echo Awards
Germany’s version of the Grammys, awarded by their music industry association (aka BVMI), was cancelled entirely in April 2018. This may not seem like a big deal but Germany is the world’s third largest music market and the Echo Awards had been around since 1992. But the awards were discontinued after controversy surrounding anti-Semitic lyrics contained in a song in the winner for best hip-hop album and the decision to perform the song at the ceremony. The fallout included protests and complaints from the public, artists, and businesses. Germany takes such incidents seriously enough that the executive board for BVMI said that the brand was irrecoverably tarnished and would need to be restructured from the ground up to distance itself from the old system. What the Echo Awards will become remains to be seen.