They’re big and burly and knock people down to the ground for a living. But during October, NFL players flaunt their feminine sides by sporting pink equipment that they also sell to raise funds for breast cancer charities. A whole whopping 5 percent from each purchase gets donated.
Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NFL auctions off sweaty girly-hued gear worn during games and also offers fans loads of unworn jerseys and such to buy online. But after a little probing, Business Insider discovered that just 5 percent of each sale goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS). To break it down: After buying, say, a Jets sweatshirt and T-shirt for $100, just $3.54 actually goes to cancer research. You have to keep in mind that only 70.8 percent of the funds ACS gets go toward research and cancer programs.
The NFL confirmed, however, that it doesn’t make a profit from the leftover proceeds. It uses the remaining money to pay for the cost of its breast cancer awareness program, A Crucial Catch. The campaign, a partnership between the NFL and the ACS, emphasizes the importance for women, particularly those over 40, to get annual screenings.
While the NFL isn’t so self-serving as to rake in dough off the goodwill of cancer supporters, some may still take issue with the fact that so much money is getting poured into awareness campaigns and not into actual hard science.
Some breast cancer advocates have grown frustrated with the way supporters simply slap a pink ribbon or label on clothing and products every October as a means to fight breast cancer. Opponents say that the pink campaign -- which was originally founded by Komen for the Cure and has now been adopted by numerous organizations -- is “pinkwashing” the issue and is not inspiring people to ask questions and take real action.
"If we could shop our way out of this epidemic, we would have done it,” Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action told the Metro West Daily News. Her organization launched the “Think Before You Pink” initiative, which encourages advocates to examine where proceeds from pink products actually go and to pressure the government to implement meaningful policy changes.
Though Komen has donated $685 million over the past 30 years to cancer research, according to Reuters, it’s steadily pulled back on the percentage of funds that it donates to such initiatives.
In 2011, for example, the organization spent 15 percent of its donations on research awards that fund studies, down from 29 percent in 2008.
"We don’t need more awareness; we need solutions," Karuna told the news outlet. "We’re looking for progress that makes a difference in addressing and ending this breast cancer epidemic."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified "Think Before Pink" by an incorrect name.
Click through the slideshow below to find out how you can advocate during Breast Cancer Awareness month beyond just "going pink."SLIDESHOW:
To make meaningful change in the lives of those living with breast cancer, Breast Cancer Action is urging advocates to "move beyond 'awareness' and pink ribbons" and the National Breast Cancer Coalition has set a deadline of 2020 for putting an end to breast cancer. The 2012 Breast Cancer Action Mandate urges government officials to push legislation that keeps corporations from polluting the environment and pushes pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms to prioritize patients over profits. The National Breast Cancer Coalition is calling on the president to agree to fight to end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020. Learn more about the petitions here and here.
Because of the efforts of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the ACS, insurance companies now cover measures such as mammograms. Find out how to support volunteers on Capitol Hill, reach council members and take part in other campaigns. Find a state-by-state guide for how to get involved here.
It isn’t just the organizations that offer low-cost mammograms and groundbreaking research that need your help. Consider getting involved with grassroots organizations that are tackling the issues that don’t garner mainstream attention. Breast Friends, for example, teaches family and friends of breast cancer patients how to best respond to a sufferer’s needs, so that no woman feels misunderstood and unsupported while facing the vicious disease. The Keep Abreast Foundation works specifically with young people. educating about to help eradicate breast cancer for future generations. Find out how you can get involved here.
Consult with Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers' list of charities that provide funds for cancer treatment to make sure your donations have a meaningful impact. The American Breast Cancer Foundation, which provides financial assistance for breast cancer screenings and diagnostic tests for uninsured and underserved individuals, and Woman 2 Woman Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization that offers ultrasound assistance, biopsy assistance, and co-pay assistance to high risk and underserved communities, are among a number of organizations that Ironwood recommends. Learn more about the other charities here.
Why is it that Komen is getting such a bad rap for making a push for a pink-oriented campaign? Watch the documentary "Pink Ribbons, Inc.," a film that closely examines the organization’s connections to corporations and how offering up such a feminine initiative may be keeping advocates from protesting for critical change.