Opinion: NFL’s money from “Pink October” doesn’t go toward breast cancer research


Maggie Wachtel is a sophomore public relations major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Maggie Wachtel

Every October, the NFL goes pink for breast cancer awareness. Everything from player’s jerseys to coach’s jackets has the pink ribbon logo symbolizing breast cancer awareness. The NFL heavily markets its breast cancer awareness apparel, and implies that the money donated goes to breast cancer research and awareness. But the NFL doesn’t donate anything toward breast cancer research, not a single cent.

According to VICE Sports, the NFL’s donations go to the American Cancer Society, which uses that money to increase awareness, education and provide screenings for women over 40. But it does not go toward breast cancer research, so it does not make a difference in the diagnosis process.

On average, the NFL has donated $7 million to the ACS every year since it began its Pink October partnership in 2009, according to USA Today. That seems like a fair amount, but when you consider the NFL made roughly $10 billion last year, it really isn’t.

In case you can’t do the math, the NFL’s salary averages out to around $9.5 billion per year. Multiply that by the five years it’s been partnered with the ACS, and you get a total of $47.5 billion in earned revenue for the NFL since 2009. That averages out to about one percent of the NFL’s annual earnings being donated to ACS per year.

A big reason for the start of Pink October was the NFL’s attempt to reach women. If you visited the NFL’s merchandise website in October, you would see that a vast majority of the apparel was geared towards women. According to the NFL’s website, 100 percent of the proceeds from Pink October apparel sales go towards the ACS. But if you buy anything from NFLshop.com, the retailer is the only one who benefits.

The only profit that goes toward ACS is the NFL’s royalty percentage, according to Vice Sports.

After the media circus that was the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, you would think the NFL would certainly make more of an effort in the donations department.

The money raised by the NFL doesn’t go toward breast cancer, and it also doesn’t make a difference in the diagnosis process. Some of the money donated goes toward screenings and, according to VICE Sports, it is a severely outdated method for detection.

The best way for early detection of breast cancer is a diagnostic mammography, according to Think Before You Pink, a watchdog organization for breast cancer charities. A diagnostic mammogram actually investigates possible problems, while screening mammograms only look for signs of cancer.

Considering what a big deal the NFL makes about Pink October, you would think it would donate more to the cause it claims to care so much about.