NFL’s promos not doing everything they to combat breast cancer: Only 8.01% of money spent on NFL Pink apparel goes to fighting breast cancer

For most people, October is a fun-packed month filled with Halloween preparations, falling leaves and, most importantly, football, but it’s also designated as breast cancer awareness month. While October may be dotted with pink-ribbon events, pink outs at school athletic events and even a time where America’s favorite professional football players run across TVs while decked head to toe in pink ribbon gear, it is easy to forget the aim of these events and why the National Football League and other participants in breast cancer awareness month are failing to benefit the cause in the way that is needed.

As the daughter of a woman who is battling stage four breast cancer, I can say from experience that breast cancer is not just a one month party filled with pink T-shirts, pink sweatbands, socks, towels, gloves, cleats and penalty flags. Cheering on my favorite team may slow life down for four quarters, but life with breast cancer, whether you or someone close to you suffers from it, is a lonely, tiring and frustrating disease, and, furthermore, when someone you love is terminal, these things never stop. Breast cancer isn’t just a one month event with an extra flash of pink on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.

In 2015, the NFL touted a $10 billion yearly revenue, earning itself the title of world’s richest sports league. According to Business Insider, for every $100 of NFL Breast Cancer apparel sold, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society. After all is said and done and every party (wholesalers, distributors, etc) has gotten a cut of merchandise profits, only 8.01 percent of the money spent on pink gear by the NFL is actually going to the ACS.

That figure is upsettingly different than the NFL’s claim that “At Retail: 100 percent of the NFL’s net proceeds from Pink product sales go to the American Cancer Society.”

These numbers mean that approximately 0.01 percent of the NFL’s yearly revenue is being given to the ACS. As a football fan and someone directly connected to breast cancer, these numbers are not only alarming, but sad.

The NFL also has no focus on research of breast cancer, rather it exploits the age old message of early mammograms, “especially women over 40,” according to their website. This may seem like a great message coming from our favorite teams, except for the fact that mammograms are not always effective in detecting cancer, and they also have no correlation with the survival rates of people diagnosed with breast cancer, whereas research itself, does.

“The most substantive mammography research, a study that followed 100,000 women for 25 years, concluded that annual screening does not result in a reduction in breast cancer specific mortality for women over 40 in any way that goes beyond physical examination,” Business Insider said of an independent study of the correlation between mammograms and survival rates.

While the risk of breast cancer does increase with age, this information also does not include the fact that some of the most aggressive types of breast cancer are most commonly found in women under 40. Women under 40 have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer that is fast-growing, has higher tumor grades and is estrogen-receptor negative, meaning it does not respond to hormone therapy and, therefore, is harder to cure.

One of the reasons women under 40 are at higher risk for more aggressive cancer is because cancer in young women is often not found until it is late-staged. With such a large and influential organization like the NFL advocating for “especially women under 40,” this is only validating the common belief that young women do not need to be checked as often, when in fact, it is just the opposite.

Most people who purchase NFL Breast Cancer apparel are simply trying to benefit a cause, though they are being mislead about where their money is really heading.

If you want to do something, donate directly to an organization like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation so that it is clear where your money is going to end up. According to their website, 88 percent of donations to the BCRF go directly to research, while 3 percent goes to awareness. The BCRF has also funded 10,876,960 active hours of research since 1993, and donations continue to fund researchers that are diligently working to find a cure for a disease that is diagnosed in a woman every two minutes in the United States.

If you would like to see your money used in our own community, the Cedar Valley Beyond Pink Team is another organization to donate money to. Donations made to the CV Beyond Pink Team helps women diagnosed with Breast Cancer right in the Cedar Valley by providing a variety of services for women living with breast cancer and those interested in ending breast cancer diagnoses.

According to their website, The Beyond Pink Team funds “monthly support group, quarterly events for young women with any cancer, Splash of Color education and support groups for women of color, a quarterly newsletter, free and low-cost mammograms, advocacy efforts to end breast cancer and special events.”

Donations of any amount to either of these organizations is needed and accepted, and it is a great alternative to buying expensive NFL Breast Cancer gear that won’t help the cause very much.

While the NFL may have good intentions or at least are leading their fans to believe they do, they are missing the mark of helping the breast cancer epidemic, as they seem to be using the disease to gain female fans and, more importantly, profits. But, hey, those pink cleats sure do look great on TV.

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