Monday, October 7, 2013

I've Got Something To Say

October, as everyone in the free world knows, is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I am grateful every single day for the treatment she received, for the diagnostic technology which allowed for fairly early discovery, and for the pharmaceuticals which have helped to keep her cancer-free for nearly 8 years.  I don't think it's possible to receive a diagnosis as frightening as cancer and not have your life changed.  I know that my entire family thinks differently about breast cancer, now, and will never again look at a pink ribbon without feeling so blessed that my mom beat the disease which takes so many.  

But that's not what I wanted to say.

I love football.  Specifically, American, NFL football (not that silly old kind you play with your actual foot on the ball).  Each year, for the past several, the NFL has "gone pink" all through October for breast cancer awareness.  I have several problems with this.

  1. When will we stop paying so much money for pink merchandise, that we could be spending on donations that can help people?  In case you don't watch NFL games, let me share. 53 players on each team.  Dozens of coaches.  Cheerleaders.  Owners.  Refs.  Guys on the sidelines throwing beads and noisemakers into the stands.  All of those people have different, pink accented outfits to wear in October.  Pink socks. Pink cleats.  Pink paint on the field.  Pink gloves.  Pink pom-poms.  Pink pocket squares.  Supposedly, the pink gear is auctioned off at the end of the campaign, with the proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society, but according to this article that had me nodding in agreement all the way through, the NFL declines to say what percentage of those funds are actually donated.  Plus, even if 100% of the profits are donated, it still cost money to produce those items.  LOTS of money- and that money could be used for such better purposes!
  2. Is awareness really what we need?  I think we're all aware of breast cancer, the risk factors, and the ways to diagnose (monthly self-exam, mammograms as recommended by your doctor).  Who doesn't know that?  Is it the average NFL fan?  No.  If I had my druthers, the funds raised by the many campaigns would go toward: a.) Mammograms and treatment for women without health insurance or who couldn't otherwise afford them and b.) Prevention research.   There are plenty of other problems that we need to be aware of.  Sex trafficking.  GMOs.  The Buccaneer's inability to win games, even when they're handed the W on a silver platter.
    I'm not sure that I'm ready to talk about this image, yet, but you can ask if you need an explanation. I'll do my best to overcome my anger and frustration.
  3. Men can get breast cancer, too.  It's rare, and it's easier for men to detect a problem because men typically have less breast tissue than women.  See the statistics, risk factors, and treatment options here.  But, breast cancer awareness campaigns, like the NFL's, and many others, make it seem like it's just a girl thing.  I <3 boobies!  Put on your pink bra!  Save the tatas!  The fact is, breast cancer is much less discriminatory than the NFL.  There, I said it.
Here's my advice, NFL:  How 'bout you DON'T use a widespread disease that kills thousands of women each year to boost your ratings with a demographic that you want on your side. DON'T profit off of the fear and suffering of so many people.  How 'bout, instead, you raise awareness about the diseases that kill men, since they're actually listening to you from September-Superbowl Sunday.  Or, don't buy thousands of pink towels for sweaty guys to hang over their rear ends, and instead, spend more money on treating the health issues that so many of your former players face.  If nothing else, could you at least make it believable that this campaign of yours is doing some good?  Please?

If you could choose, what disease/problem would everyone be made aware of?


  1. I don't watch football so I wasn't aware of the pink merchandise used by the NFL in October. I would love to see the money spent on producing all that stuff go instead to providing screening and treatment to women (and men) who have inadequate or no insurance. That is a great idea.

  2. A fine post. :) I too am sorry about the Bucs and their tendency to accumulate Ls.

    Also notice I did not type L's. Your welcome.

    As for disease awareness... well. Sort of "preoccupied" with the disease of addiction, lately. As for the people I want made aware? Teens, mostly.

    Tough sell, trying to educate that invulnerable, a-ha, know-it-all demographic about the reality of substance use and abuse.

    And - sorry to admit I need an explanation for the second image. Whenever it's convenient for you. :)

  3. With mere seconds to go in the game against the Jets, and a 2 point lead, Bucs defender LaVonte David pushed the Jets' QB when he was out of bounds. The penalty got them within field goal range.