The date was December 9, 1934. The New York Giants were playing the Chicago Bears for the championship of the National Football League. The two teams were thought to be evenly matched, but there was a special factor that day that changed the dynamics of the game: heavy rains and cold temperatures had turned the field at New York’s Polo Grounds stadium into a virtual sheet of ice. The home team trailed 10-3 after two quarters and looked done for, as the visiting Bears were doing a much better job of slip-sliding up and down the field.
But in the Giants’ locker room at halftime, somebody had an idea. It had little to do with the sort of midgame adjustments that were common in football, such as changing offensive plays or defensive formations. This was completely different. The notion was that maybe the Giants would be more successful not by changing their game plan but by changing their shoes-specifically, by taking off their football cleats and wearing sneakers for better traction. A mad scramble turned up enough pairs to accommodate the team, and the sneakers ended up providing the Giants with sure footing that led to 27 second-half points and a 30-13 victory. The “Sneaker Game” became part of sporting lore.
The lesson to be learned from the Giants that day is that challenging the accepted way of doing things-daring to be different-is critical to progress and can bring great success.
Source: Dare to Be Different / Michael Ackland, David Rhodes / Boston Consulting Group (BCG), December 20, 2002