There is certainly a great deal of good will that is generated from cause marketing, as well as dollars and attention. Even those which seem at first to be a stretch -- the pink of the NFL for October for example -- makes great sense when one realizes the depth and scope of the way cancer of any form impacts millions of lives, and the attention that can be brought to the disease, or any cause, through the power of sport.
Therefore, it should come as a surprise that an issue that continues to rise to crisis proportions amongst young people -- bullying -- still really has not been embraced by a team or large group of athletes or a property. Maybe because elite athletes accept some form of intimidation as part of the game, and that they have been able to overcome and succeed by taking on that intimidation, mental, physical or emotional, that there is a disconnect. Maybe it's because at some level bullying is part of athletic success. However, that is all the more reason for athletics and athletic marketing to find ways to effectively and publicly address a bullying issue with the highest of stars in sport, and use them as role models to show that bullying is not acceptable to those with whom they can influence. Bullying is not as tangible as a disease on any level, and addressing it cannot see the same physical results as one will see with a campaign to fight childhood obesity like "Let's Move" is doing with First Lady Michelle Obama and her team. However, it is an embraceable cause, and one which can actually lead to exposing the value of sport to an audience that may not have accepted or enjoyed sports as a whole because those people were not good enough to play. Embracing an anti-bullying platform would go a long way in a new area for cause marketing, and could help heal some very public and very silent wounds for millions of young people effected by it every day.
Recently, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill that enacts the toughest anti-bullying law in the country. Much of the buzz in New Jersey was because of the tragic death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi last year, who committed suicide after his roommate and another student posted videos of Clementi with another male student. It was a strong move for the State regardless of whom is being bullied and for whatever reason, and opens the door for teams who play in the state and in the area, to step up in Public Service in support of the bill and the movement.
Maybe the issue is too controversial to take on and justify, but it is needed. Maybe even a property like the UFC can find a creative way to take on the topic and speak right to the demo that is most effected, teens and young people. It would be cutting edge and novel and could be a great help to millions who are getting support through academics and others but not yet in sport. A worthwhile cause, and one which can help avert unspeakable and unneeded tragedy at a time when the nation is coming to grips with another tragedy, the senseless slayings that took place in Tucson over the weekend.
Anti-bullying. A good cause that could use a nice pop from the business of sports -- and the brands that support it.