Pink Steps up to the Plate for Breast Cancer Awareness

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.

The pink ribbon logo used by Major League Baseball on Mother's Day.

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

Here We Go Again!

It’s been awhile since I last updated The Opinion Paige, but I’m resurrecting the blog for my Strategic Public Relations Communications class (also known as J452). If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Paige Landsem and I’m a junior at the University of Oregon studying public relations.

Before I neglected it, this blog focused on public relations, journalism, current events and sports. It was a jumble of thoughts, but now it’s going to be a more focused look at the intersection of sports and PR. I’d say those are my two favorite topics. There seems to be a never-ending stream of PR issues in sports, whether it’s an athlete doing some tremendous charity work in his community or getting in hot water for making a controversial comment.

You can't see the signature too well, but this is me with the baseball Trevor Hoffman (Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader) signed for me. My dad caught the ball during batting practice at a Brewers v. Indians game.

While sports and PR are my two favorite topics, baseball and college football are my two favorite sports. Growing up, I’d listen to broadcaster Dave Niehaus bring Seattle Mariners games to life. My dad and I make a point of visiting the nearest Major League ballpark whenever we’re in a new place, and I count my Trevor Hoffman autographed baseball as one of my most prized possessions.

My love for college football began about 18 months ago during the Oregon Ducks’ run to the 2010 Rose Bowl game. It only grew this past season, when we went to the BCS National Championship (and yes, I’m still a little bitter about the loss).

Since sports and PR news dominate my life, I’m excited to use this blog as an outlet to examine those topics and engage with fellow sports fans to gain insight from their points of view.