Profiting from awareness campaigns walks a thin line



During October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign partners with the American Cancer Society to focus on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 years and older.

Throughout the month coaches, referees and select players have sported the hot pink to raise awareness. On, pink NFL shirts, hats and jerseys are on sale.

Recently, in an article from Business Insider, Darren Rovell of ESPN obtained data from the NFL stating the NFL “takes a 25% royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90% of royalty to American Cancer Society.”

This means for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. In total, only eight percent of money spent on pink NFL merchandise actually goes toward cancer research.
According to The Guardian, it is unclear exactly how much money the “eight percent” represents, but we can assume that donating a few more dollars wouldn’t push the NFL into bankruptcy.

Locally, with the help of surrounding high school volleyball teams, the UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team raises money annually for local breast cancer efforts. Head Coach Kim Wudi said the team has raised nearly $75,000 in the past five years they have participated in fundraising.

The volleyball team’s annual fundraiser consists of a themed match (which took place on Oct. 4 against UW-Oshkosh) where they accepted donations and sold t-shirts.

Wudi said every dollar raised goes directly to breast cancer efforts, because the team does not have any overhead costs.

“When we started doing this program, it was really never about fundraising,” Wudi said. “It’s more about breast cancer awareness, and so it’s really alarming that they are profiting from trying to raise awareness of a cancer that is really devastating for a lot of people. I think that is really unfortunate.”

The positive awareness generated from wearing pink during Packer games on Sunday cannot be denied. But instead of sporting the pink and simply generating talk, these huge teams (aka corporations) need to donate the money where their mouths are.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. Estimations for 2013 indicate about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and nearly 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. Breast cancer is the second leading cancer cause of death in women.

Thank you NFL for supporting the cause, but let’s drop the commercial gags and fight this disease with everything we have.