If you watched a Major League Baseball game on Sunday, you probably saw a player wearing pink cleats or swinging a pink bat. Those pink shoes and bats were a visual representation of MLB teaming with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to enact the “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” campaign, which heightens breast cancer awareness and increases MLB’s corporate social responsibility efforts.
Since 2005, the organizations have partnered to “pink-ify” Major League Baseball games on Mother’s Day. Players are allowed to wear pink items like cleats, wristbands, bracelets and necklaces. The campaign is geared toward increasing breast cancer awareness and raising funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as some of the pink benefits will be auctioned online to benefit the organization.
The partnership allows Susan G. Komen for the Cure to receive broad national exposure. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig noted how the partnership also allows MLB to further its corporate social responsibility efforts. “Major League Baseball’s partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, through the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program, represents one of our most significant causes,” he told MLB.com.
However, this partnership is unique because it exists not only between major league teams and Komen, but between Komen and major league players. Wearing pink cleats or swinging a pink bat gives players a chance to “talk the talk” of philanthropy and social responsibility. Rather than simply writing a check to an organization, the Komen/MLB partnership allows players to put their philanthropic intentions to practice in a high-visibility setting like national television.
Certain players, like New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, use the day to tell stories of how cancer has personally affected them and why they support Komen. While he has not had a family member diagnosed with breast cancer, he has had family members affected by brain cancer and leukemia.
Swisher understands the value of MLB’s partnership with Komen and how it can boost support for breast cancer research. He told the New York Daily News, “They’ve done a great job of getting the word out and branding what that means. Not only raising money, but getting the word out in general. It’s a fun day.”
While enthusiastic players like Swisher demonstrate how the campaign was a success, it must obtain the support of every player if it wants to generate even more support in the future. Some players, like Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, are less willing to sport the pink apparel. According to Yahoo!’s “Big League Stew” blog, Konerko did not want to wear pink cleats, but eventually gave in after the encouragement of his teammates. (Going pink paid off, however, as he went 5-for-5 at the plate during the White Sox’s eventual 5-2 win over my lowly Seattle Mariners.)
Even though it would be ideal for every major leaguer to support the program, MLB’s partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure demonstrates how professional sports can be a driving force for positive change nationwide.
Pink ribbon photo credit: “MLB, Red Sox, celebrate Mother’s Day by raising breast cancer awareness” – Boston.com