Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NFL goes titty pink


If amidst the clashing bodies, helmets, and pads on the field you noticed flashes of pink, you weren't just seeing things. When I first saw the pink shoes on one of the Steelers' players, I thought it was pretty ballsy of the guy, and I respected him for doing it because not many men have the guts to wear pink... and he was just asking to be tackled in those.

When I noticed that the pink shoes graced the feet of many players on the field, I had even more respect for what I belatedly realized they were doing. And not only were they wearing pink shoes, but pink gloves, pink sweat bands, pink towels... even the padding on the goal posts was pink. On the sidelines the coaches and players were wearing baseball caps with pink brims. The cheerleaders had pink pom-poms. And it was all for October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as part of a campaign the NFL names "A Crucial Catch".

The NFL is partnering with the American Cancer Society (ACS) in a campaign focused on the importance of annual screenings for early breast cancer detection.

Even the NFL's official merchandise site has gone pink in support of the cause; fusing old fan favorites and some new specifically themed items with the symbolic color, and donating a portion of the proceeds to the ACS.

Breast cancer is the 7th largest cause of death for women in the United States; killing over 40,000 women in 2005 alone. I have never seen the NFL, nor any profit organization, tackle any charitable cause this directly and in such a multi-faceted array of means reaching so many; actively making it a part of the games, thus allowing it to be a constant focus and reminder; in every photo taken, on every television, in all the video replays... pink is everywhere, in every shot. It couldn't be ignored.

I applaud the NFL for their in-your-face tactics in the way that it was integrated in so many ways into the games. Especially commendable is that the football is a game where, with very few exceptions, men play, men coach, men ref, men own the teams, and men call all the shots. Women are the pretty things that prance up and down the sidelines in skimpy outfits. That they took a disease which 99% of the time affects women, and made it the center of their efforts this weekend in all their games and spent considerable funds doing it, deserves a standing ovation.

Further, millions watch football every week, many of whom never think much about charity, breast cancer, or those types of causes or concerns. That the NFL is drilling into a huge and largely untapped resource in its football fans is invaluable to breast cancer research, screening, and treatment funding and awareness. Truly, there is no better team the breast cancer foundations could have on their side than one with such a wide reach to such a wide array of people; the NFL.

NFL teams are also going one step further, holding additional awareness events and fundraisers. The Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting a "Hot Pink" event next Tuesday, Oct. 13. It is to be hosted by Steelers tackle Max Starks and his mother Elleanor and the proceeds benefit breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured women in Western Pennsylvania. To learn more about this event, visit: http://www.steelers.com/article/110261/ . For non-Steelers fans, to learn more about what your team is doing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, visit nfl.com or your team's website.

As for all that pink gear the players and coaches, support staff and cheerleaders are rocking? They're going to continue wearing it throughout October and in the end it will all be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and other individual team charities. You can check that out at www.NFLAuction.NFL.com .

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