It started as a simple way for players to tell their story, one which drew the ire of the NFL as a uniform violation, but one which has grown to be much more of a platform as players continue to find more of a social voice. So this week, the NFL allowed hundreds of players to use their cleats as a form of expression for charitable causes as part of #MyCauseMyCleats. Almost every team had players participate for charities and as a call to action big and small. Some pushed their own foundation, others looked to bigger causes like social injustice and mental health. In all, by being out in front and proactive with the players for this week, the league and the players may have unlocked a new best practice that can be replicated throughout sport as a mosaic of social good.
The picture gallery form those past weekend was quite the mosaic, as a host of players worked hard to gain visibility with a number of colors and styles, some working closely with the shoe companies to drive optimal exposure. Those with a well-orchestrated social media campaign and footprint did even better to the call to action, and the team and league support for the initiative drove much more media attention than a one off effort by a player with mixed results. The biggest impact was when athletes worked together, as happened with the Ravens and others, and those causes who were involved help amplify the message.
At its generic best the one week opportunity showed how a league can stray from the uniformity of uniforms and put charity on the forefront. While there cannot be abuse or even control by the sneaker companies, the ability to drive awareness for causes and the dedication of athletes shows that there is more than a one off opportunity here and this is something that could gain ground across sports and around the world as a call to action for issues big and small.
While there is not yet a full look at the impact of the week…we still have Monday Night Football, it is hard to see how #MyCauseMyCleats was not a success, and all should be intrigued to see where it can go from here, now with a toehold on driving awareness in a very controlled environment.