Breast Cancer Awareness Month NFL Campaign Gives Just 5% To Charity

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson passes as he runs over the Pink NFL breast cancer awareness ribbon, under press
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson passes as he runs over the Pink NFL breast cancer awareness ribbon, under pressure from Atlanta Falcons Curtis Lofton in the first half of a NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

They’re big and burly and knock people down to the ground for a living. But during October, NFL players flaunt their feminine sides by sporting pink equipment that they also sell to raise funds for breast cancer charities. A whole whopping 5 percent from each purchase gets donated.

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NFL auctions off sweaty girly-hued gear worn during games and also offers fans loads of unworn jerseys and such to buy online. But after a little probing, Business Insider discovered that just 5 percent of each sale goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS). To break it down: After buying, say, a Jets sweatshirt and T-shirt for $100, just $3.54 actually goes to cancer research. You have to keep in mind that only 70.8 percent of the funds ACS gets go toward research and cancer programs.

The NFL confirmed, however, that it doesn’t make a profit from the leftover proceeds. It uses the remaining money to pay for the cost of its breast cancer awareness program, A Crucial Catch. The campaign, a partnership between the NFL and the ACS, emphasizes the importance for women, particularly those over 40, to get annual screenings.

While the NFL isn’t so self-serving as to rake in dough off the goodwill of cancer supporters, some may still take issue with the fact that so much money is getting poured into awareness campaigns and not into actual hard science.

Some breast cancer advocates have grown frustrated with the way supporters simply slap a pink ribbon or label on clothing and products every October as a means to fight breast cancer. Opponents say that the pink campaign -- which was originally founded by Komen for the Cure and has now been adopted by numerous organizations -- is “pinkwashing” the issue and is not inspiring people to ask questions and take real action.

"If we could shop our way out of this epidemic, we would have done it,” Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action told the Metro West Daily News. Her organization launched the “Think Before You Pink” initiative, which encourages advocates to examine where proceeds from pink products actually go and to pressure the government to implement meaningful policy changes.

Though Komen has donated $685 million over the past 30 years to cancer research, according to Reuters, it’s steadily pulled back on the percentage of funds that it donates to such initiatives.

In 2011, for example, the organization spent 15 percent of its donations on research awards that fund studies, down from 29 percent in 2008.

"We don’t need more awareness; we need solutions," Karuna told the news outlet. "We’re looking for progress that makes a difference in addressing and ending this breast cancer epidemic."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified "Think Before Pink" by an incorrect name.

Click through the slideshow below to find out how you can advocate during Breast Cancer Awareness month beyond just "going pink."


Support Breast Cancer Without 'Going Pink'