Playoff beards. In hockey, they are a tradition and a superstition. You know the best hockey of the year is about to be played when your favorite players stop shaving. You hope your team stays in the running long enough that the young guns can actually grow more than peach fuzz. Over at The Sports Dish, you can see pictures of the best beards in recent years.
Former player Denis Potvin knew how to work a playoff beard. He led the New York Islanders to four Stanley Cup victories. Photo by Getty Images.
It started as just something the players did, but now it has spread through the fans and is even being used as a tactic to raise money for charity. Beards as a public relations tool? In the National Hockey League, I would expect nothing less. Each team in the playoffs has its own Beard-A-Thon
website to bring fans together and fundraise. There are also Facebook
outlets for the cause.
A best practices case study:
The Pittsburgh Penguins Beard-A-Thon
Last year the Penguins put the playoff beards of players and fans to good use and raised money for The Mario Lemieux Foundation through the Beard-A-Thon. Along with the players, more than 1,700 fans participated and they raised more than $113,000 for the foundation. The money comes in through donations of “beard sponsors,” people who give money in support of your beard. Pictures showing growth through the playoffs are posted online for everyone to see.
Pittsburgh Penguin Max Talbot shows off his playoff beard in full force while hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2009. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.
It’s a perfect public relations tactic. The entertainment factor is met by allowing fans to “grow one for the team,” and hockey fans (especially in Pittsburgh) are known for going above and beyond to show love to their team. An event like this one is also bound to garner media coverage. Each year during the playoffs, sports news outlets talk about the beards. Through the beard-growing contest, the Penguins will get even more coverage because there is an important cause behind the event. And to me, that’s the most important part. Regardless of the media coverage or the extra bond it creates among fans, the best part of the Beard-A-Thon is that it has a true, worthwhile purpose. That’s something every sports fan can get behind.
A new weekly beard feature
In honor of the beauty of playoff beards, I will be posting regularly about the best beards of this year’s playoffs. I was thinking about picking the best beard of each round or maybe posting photos and asking you readers to guess who the beard belongs to. Let me know what you would like best!
*This blog post was inspired by and is dedicated to Katie Young, my friend and fellow Kent State PR student. Katie has a pretty serious love for beards of all kinds, but especially playoff beards (and Rick Nash’s beard in particular!). She suggested (really demanded) that I write a blog post about the power of playoff beards. Katie also writes for The Art Experience, her own art/art museum public relations blog. Check it out!