Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shame on you, NFL

Those of you watching the NFL may have noticed the influx of pink everything this weekend as part of the NFL's annual campaign to "raise awareness" about breast cancer.  To quote from their press release, during the month of October every NFL game will feature:

» Game balls with pink ribbon decals used for every down
» Players wearing pink cleats, wristbands, gloves, chin straps, sideline caps, helmet decals, eye shield decals, captains' patches, sideline towels and quarterback towels
» Pink coins used for the coin toss
» Pink sideline caps for coaches and sideline personnel and pink ribbon pins for coaches and team executives
» Officials wearing caps with pink ribbons, pink wristbands and pins and using pink whistles
» On-field pink ribbon stencils and A Crucial Catch wall banners
» Pink goal-post padding in end zones
» A Crucial Catch pink glow necklaces for all fans attending the Bears-Giants game on Oct. 3

After the game these items will be autographed and auctioned off, with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.  You can also buy special pink team shirts and other merchandise, and an unspecified portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer charities.  Special pink trading cards with facts about breast cancer will be included for free when you purchase a pack of trading cards.  Gatorade carts will feature pink ribbon stickers.  Players and teams will supposedly be involved with different special events and fundraising things.  At one of the games this past weekend 125 breast cancer survivors were on field during the singing of the national anthem.  One player, whose mother died of breast cancer, will be donating $1000 for every reception and $5000 for every touchdown he scores during the month of October.  Oh, and there's this website that mostly encourages you to buy or bid on things but also includes a helpful reminder to schedule a mammogram and the opportunity to sign up for ACS fundraising walks.

Notice anything missing?

The NFL itself isn't donating a single cent to anything breast cancer.  All of the money raised by their campaign comes from the fans.  Only a percentage of the profits from the pink team merchandise goes to breast cancer, and I would be absolutely shocked if that percentage is higher than 20%.  My guess is that it's closer to 10%.  I'm not sure where the rest of the money goes, but someone is going to be profiting off of the general public wanting to help breast cancer, whether it's the NFL or the teams or the manufacturer I don't know.  Not to mention all of the good publicity the NFL gets from "raising awareness" about breast cancer.

But what are they doing, really?  A stupid pink whistle doesn't do a damn thing for breast cancer.  Pink goal padding in the end zones?  Pink glow necklaces?  Seriously??!?!?!!  How on earth does that help?  I just find it irritating,  A woman in my young adult support group, who is a sports writer and breast cancer survivor, says she watches football to forget about breast cancer and hates being bombarded by it all month long.  I highly doubt that this will convince more than a handful of women to go get a mammogram.  I wonder how much money this will actually raise.  Who is going to bid on a pink game ball, even if it is autographed by Tom Brady?  Let's be real here!  Are that many people going to buy pink t-shirts?  I really don't think we're talking about large sums of money here.  This is a completely self serving, nearly meaningless campaign, an opportunity for a bunch of meathead football players to prance around the field in pink cleats and think they're doing something meaningful while the big wigs in the NFL corporate offices pat themselves on the back for turning this into a profit.

Meaningful would be distributing cards about self breast exams.  Meaningful would be donating proceeds from ticket sales to organizations that sponsor mammograms for uninsured women.  Meaningful would be donating money out of the NFL's well-padded pocketbook to research.  Meaningful would be raising awareness about breast cancer in men, because hardly anyone ever talks about that.  That's an issue that actually needs some awareness raised.  Meaningful would be taking the money used to manufacture all of this pink crap and donating it to a breast cancer organization instead.

Not to mention that breast cancer, and cancer in general, isn't just happy pink chin straps and wrist bands and ribbons on football fields.  It's people getting sick, going through painful mastectomies and reconstruction, going through the hell of chemotherapy, and dying.  Yes, we've made a ton of progress and more and more women (and men) are thriving after cancer, but the bottom line is that people are still dying.  No amount of pink merchandise can take away the pain of diagnosis or the loss of a breast or the loss of a loved one.

So shame on you, NFL, for trying to profit off of cancer patients and staging a publicity stunt in the name of breast cancer awareness.  Shame on you for getting everyone else to spend money and not giving a dime for a good cause.  Shame on you for being a bunch of selfish, greedy profiteers.

P.S. Don't get me started on that idiotic facebook thing about where you put your purse.  I've been ranting about it all day.


getyourselfconnected said...

I saw all the pink this weekend, are you sure they were not even matching contributions to some degree? That is a poor effort on their part. Great catch, wish i could say I am shocked, but I am not.

au soleil levant said...

I spent a while trying to find out if they're giving any money and I couldn't find anything. I feel like if they were giving money they would be trumpeting it all over the internet, not hiding it. Pretty terrible if you ask me.

Zhu said...

I bought some "pink" mushrooms the other day (only mushrooms available at the supermarket) and thought of you. Seriously, WTF? While I perfectly understand the whole support thing, how does having mushrooms in a pink box with ribbons makes me (and makes the supermarket) support the fight against cancer?

This is turning into a sad gimmick.

Gwan said...

It's not an area I know lots and lots about, but I have read a few articles about 'pinkwashing' so I tend to be a bit skeptical too these days. And yeah, the handbag thing is just ridiculous. Not only because of the cutesy-poo nudge nudge wink wink aspect, but because that raises awareness of breast cancer how? The message I got said that the whole 'what colour is your bra' thing from last year made the news, well a) that isn't going to happen twice and b) I didn't even realise that supposedly had anything to do with breast cancer, so it can't have been very effective!

Leesa said...

OH my!! I just skimmed though the post but I'm with you 100%! They're NOT donating to breast cancer research and they're sporting the pink anyhow?? Like saying to the world--- Look! We support breast cancer- but we don't give money for the cure or research... hmmm... Fishy and sounds like a marketing ploy to me! Shame on them!!

au soleil levant said...

Zhu - I totally agree, companies are using breast cancer to turn a profit. You can buy pink measuring cups, pink blenders, pink spices for goodness sake! Then the company gives a couple of dollars to breast cancer research, and the total amount they donate is often capped, and we're supposed to think this is great. Whatever.

Gwan - Agreed. The bra color thing drove me nuts last year, but the purse thing was just absurd. It is in no way shape or form connected to breast cancer anything. In addition to being exploited by companies, breast cancer is being sexualized. Great article about it here

Leesa - glad you agree! And how about companies who stick breast cancer stickers on products containing known carcinogens?!?!! Think before you pink!

Leesa said...

Mir-- Do companies ACTUALLY do that?? That's sick!! Yeh.. think before your pink, is right!!!

Thanks! Leese