October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and if you're a football fan, you've probably already noticed that the National Football League is making everything pink: players' jerseys, cleats, parts of the field, coaches' hats, and more. But doubts have been cast over whether the NFL's motives are as altruistic as they seem. The league is coming under fire in the wake of a new report that accuses the NFL of profiting from the cause, arguing that most of the money from the breast cancer awareness push "ends up in the pockets of billionaire NFL owners." The NFL refutes that claim. What exactly does the NFL's breast cancer campaign do in terms of raising money and raising awareness? Here's what you should know:
What is the NFL doing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
It's aiming to raise awareness for the cause by featuring an abundance of pink — the signature color of the movement. The NFL is also raising money for the American Cancer Society (ACS) by auctioning off autographs and other valuable paraphernalia. Lastly, the NFL is selling a plethora of pink items in its NFL Shop.
And what does this report claim?
According to Cork Gaines at Business Insider, a representative from the NFL Shop says only 5 percent of sales from Breast Cancer Awareness gear goes to the ACS, with the rest going to the NFL itself. "If the pink products have a typical 100 percent mark-up at retail," explains Gaines, "that means the NFL is keeping 90 percent of the profit." Gaines also argues that only 78 percent of the money the ACS receives goes toward actual research, while the rest goes to cover administrative costs. "So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45."
How does the NFL respond?
A representative said the NFL takes whatever money isn't given to ACS and uses it to cover the costs of its own breast cancer program, A Crucial Catch. The website for the program instructs people how to attend cancer walks, schedule mammogram screenings and, of course, bid on pink merchandise. The NFL also notes that it has donated more than $3 million toward cancer research since 2009.
Does that mean the NFL doesn't profit from selling pink items?
Technically, the NFL gets a huge majority of the proceeds, but if the league is to be taken at its word, all that money gets funneled back into A Crucial Catch.
So... what should we make of this story?
It depends who you ask. "Pardon me while I don't slobber all over the NFL's pink-drenched marketing campaign," says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. The NFL had $9.5 billion in revenue in 2011, and they've donated a paltry $3 million to breast cancer? Plus, "the type of awareness the NFL is providing is useless, vague garbage." But every little bit counts, says Doug Farrar at Yahoo. It's sad that these accusations will likely cause people to "shy away" from donating, meaning that "innocent people could be denied care and treatment."