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A statue of the famed Iowa coach is a great idea, but does this particular design capture the unique elan of Hayden Fry?

Horace E. Cow

You may have heard that the City of Coralville has plans to unveil a Hayden Fry statue at this year's FRY Fest. Broadly speaking, this is wonderful news. If any figure in Iowa sports has acquired the status of an icon worthy of statue-fication (and is not named Nile Kinnick), it's Hayden Fry. But about the specific statue design... It is a good likeness of the lantern-jawed, aviator-wearing Hayden in his classic period, but, assuming the final product resembles this working model, I see two potential problems:

1) The proportions

This is something that may change in the final design, so take this critique with a grain of salt, but the proportions of this statue don't look quite right to me. Hayden Fry had, I think we would all agree, a large head, but it wasn't this large. Here's my super-scientific comparison of statue-Hayden and actual-Hayden:


As you can see, the real Hayden's head clocks in at about 13% of his total height, while statue Hayden's head rates almost 16% (the photograph of the statue is taken at a bit of an angle, and the hat obscures where exactly the head ends, but I hope the exact numbers wouldn't be too far off of this).

If you ever read a "how to draw superheroes" book you checked out from the library, you may recall a page like this one about realistic and heroic body proportions:


As you can see, a normally proportioned body is 7.5 heads tall, which translates to a 13% head/body ratio. Hayden's real proportions are in that neighborhood. But as you go from realistic to heroic, the ratio of head/body shrinks, down to 11% in the case of the superhero. What this chart doesn't show is the effect when you go the other way and make the head too big for the body, but suffice it to say a too-large head makes the whole figure look a little stunted and cartoonish.

Can a 3% difference in head/body ratio really make that big a difference? You're darn right it can. Less than that is the difference between Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent. Hayden doesn't have to be depicted as a superhero (although it wouldn't hurt to make him a little heroic in his proportions – he is, after all, an Iowa hero), but his proportions should at least be true to life.

2) The Pose

A statue's pose should capture some essential quality about the figure depicted. But what does this pose say about Hayden Fry? Will it communicate the indefinable "Hayden-ness" of the beloved coach 70 years from now when everyone who watched him coach in his prime is dead and gone? I'm not sure. The pose is static and the expression is awfully serious. Does that express the quintessence of Fry? I don't think so.

If you had to describe Hayden Fry in three words, you could do worse than joyous, funny, and triumphant. Win or lose, he always seemed like he was having the best damn time, as if he was pulling off a tremendous joke on the world. He transformed Iowa's football program into a winner, but did it without sacrificing exuberance, style and fun. How do you capture that combination of sly humor, bursting energy, and competitive fire? Like this:


Karate-kicking Hayden Fry (taken from this photograph) is Hayden Fry. It represents, in concrete form, the joyous spirit of the coach who has become the spirit animal of Iowa fandom. I'm sure the cantilevered design would pose some technical difficulties, but we have an engineering school, don't we? Let's make this happen, people.

Feel free to register your thoughts in the comments. Do you like the new statue? Is there a different pose/era of Fry you would prefer? This could be the young Elvis/old Elvis controversy all over again.