Through the month of October, the NFL really hammers on the idea of breast cancer awareness by having pretty much every piece of gear worn by a player have pink on it in some fashion. On top of that, this year the NFL made the penalty flags the referees throw pink as well. They announced today (after backlash from people who claimed it made it hard to see when a flag was thrown, which is true) that the flags would once again be yellow next week, and I have to say that’s a good decision. It’s a good decision not only because the premise the backlash was based on is true, but also because I don’t think the way the NFL approaches the issue of breast cancer awareness is necessarily all that helpful.
The idea behind having pink all over every NFL telecast for the month is that, first and foremost, having the color be so visible in such a popular sport will raise awareness by itself. I think this is a fine idea in theory, but hammering on that concept to the point where the colors become distracting and the viewer begins having gripes about it makes the idea of raising awareness conterproductive, in my opinion. The other thing the NFL hopes to do is sell pink merchandise in order to benefit breast cancer research; however, a very small % of the funds of the NFL’s charity dedicated to the cause actually go to said research. This is a huge problem, and one that indicates the NFL should re-evaluate its approach to breast cancer awareness from the bottom-up. The NFL either needs to dedicate a lot more of the merchandise % to the actual cause, or stop simply attaching pink to the players and thinking that’s good enough. Instead of spending time focusing on aesthetics, the NFL should spend time researching various programs and research foundations they can set up (or simply donate money to) that will actually help make progress when it comes to raising awareness for breast cancer, and also helping to fight breast cancer. I would plead to the NFL: make these changes not because of the effect they have on the purity of the football game, but rather because you actually want to make a real difference in fighting this terrible disease.