NFL Goes Pink (Again), Expect Less This October


October has become the month that will forever be associated with pink in the NFL. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) since 1985 began as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca). The campaign hit the NFL in a big way in 2009 through the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch.”

From the NFL’s own site:

"Since 2009, the first year of the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, the NFL’s work has raised approximately $7 million for the American Cancer Society, with the majority of the contribution coming from the sale of Pink items at retail and via the NFL Auction website. Beginning with the 2011 “A Crucial Catch” Campaign, money raised via the campaign supports the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. This program promotes health equity and addresses cancer screening disparities through community based cancer prevention and early detection programs that increase access to breast cancer screenings."

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It’s a great goal, truly. But the NFL has come under fire for just

how much of the money is going to treat breast cancer

. Business Insider’s article from last year highlights that just over 11% of the money goes to the American Cancer Society, with just over 8% hitting actual research. This flies in the face of the NFL’s statement on their current site under “additional details” that says:

"1. NFL Auction: 100% of proceeds from Pink products auctioned on go directly to the American Cancer Society (ACS)2. At Retail: 100% of the NFL’s proceeds from Pink product sales go to the American Cancer Society."

Deadspin predicts that you’ll be “seeing a lot less pink this Pinktober.” Part of this is because of a pull out from organizations in partnership with the NFL and part of it could be the perceptions around the NFL, especially surrounding domestic abuse. Organizations may be beginning to pull away because of the lack of direct support that the NFL’s campaign provides to the American Cancer Society.

While the critiques abound (and likely for good reason) breast cancer awareness is a good cause to get behind. It’s also pretty much here to stay, in part because it’s a tool to reach out to female fans. USA Today quotes that the message “rings hollow” for many people, especially since the NFL and BCAM aren’t a logical partnership.

Personally I say bring on Pinktober!