Pink is not my color

Published 12:09 pm Friday, October 9, 2015

In recent years, the color pink has become just as synonymous with the month of October as pumpkins, trick-or-treat and ghosts. Recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is commonplace in our society, as we rightfully acknowledge a disease that affects the lives of one in every eight women in the United States by clipping pink ribbons to our ties or blouses.

But quite frankly, the hysteria of turning everything pink has rubbed me the wrong way. And the commercialization of the month, be it in the products that we buy from the store or the gloves, socks, cleats, towels and mouthpieces of every player in the National Football League, is the main reason why.

I take specific issue with the NFL, because — while it’s not the only major corporation to use breast cancer as a marketing tool — it claims that 100 percent of the proceeds it receives from the sale of pink merchandise go to the American Cancer Society. However, according to data obtained from the NFL by Business Insiders, a shockingly small amount of the fans’ money is actually going toward cancer research.

More than 50 percent of the profits made through league retailers are going to the NFL, while a minuscule 11.25 percent goes to the ACS.

In other words, for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $1.25 goes directly to the NFL; $11.25 goes to the ACS. The remaining $87.50 is divided between the company that makes the merchandise ($37.50) and the company that sells the merchandise ($50), which is often the NFL and its individual teams.

Business Insider also notes that — according to Charity Navigator, a nonprofit company which evaluates the use of charitable donations — only 71.2 percent of the money that the American Cancer Society receives goes toward research and cancer programs.

After the article was published, ACS spokeswoman Tara Peters told VICE Sports that, “the money we receive from the NFL has nothing to do with our research programs.” She then explained that all of the NFL’s donations go to ACS’ CHANGE program, which awards grants to “community-based health facilities” located within 100 miles of an NFL city for educating women about breast health.

That’s still only $8.01 for every $100 you spend on your favorite team’s pink jersey, hat or shirt — a far cry from “100 percent of the proceeds.”

The National Football League should not abandon its month-long pink initiative, but it should also be transparent with how much of an impact it actually makes. If the point of the “Crucial Catch” campaign is to actually find a cure for cancer, fans would have a bigger impact by donating directly to the ACS.

And if multi-billion dollar corporations like the NFL actually want to raise awareness on issues, then it should focus less on breast cancer and on something that actually pertains to its employees — such as domestic violence and sexual assault.

ANDREW LIND is a staff writer at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at (757) 562-3187 or