Have you noticed that during the month of October, the NFL suddenly becomes intensely concerned with making sure you're aware of breast cancer? Pink jerseys! Huge Ass Pink Ribbons at midfield! Pink motherfucking cleats! Fans interested in aware-ing on their own can even click on over to the NFL's store and purchase ugly pink crap of their own under the assumption that their good intentions will actually contribute to the fight against cancer. Well, I hate to burst your Pepto Bismo Pink bubble, wearers of dangly earrings that contain both ribbons and tiny footballs, but you've been had — the NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign does raise itsy bitsy amounts of money for the fight against cancer, but the amount of money it raises pales in comparison to the amount of money it raises for billionaire NFL owners.
The NFL claims that its pink philanthropy efforts "support the fight against breast cancer" by "promoting awareness" and providing funds to the American Cancer Society. But what they're mostly promoting is, uh, buying NFL gear, the profits from which are overwhelmingly pocketed by the NFL.
According to Business Insider, the NFL's October Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraising effort is multi-pronged. There's the on-field onslaught of pink (AWARENESS), the off-field auction of autographed or otherwise noteworthy NFL paraphernalia (MONEY FOR THE CURE!), and the part of the NFL store that entices shoppers to purchase officially licensed NFL breast cancer gear, a portion of which goes to FINDING A CURE. According to the League, 100% of the proceeds from the specialty auction go to the American Cancer Society, but the total percentage of purchases of officially licensed gear that actually goes to FINDING A CURE is actually kind of pathetic — 5%. If you want to look at this cynically, in a way, the on-field wearin' o' the pink serves as an ad to direct consumers to purchase pink fan items.
BUT WAIT, you might say, AT LEAST THEY'RE DOING SOMETHING. And 5% is still something! Well, kind of. As BI pointed out, if NFL products are sold at a 100% markup and only 5% of sale proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, then the NFL is pocketing 90% of sales of Breast Cancer Awareness products, many of which would not be purchased if they didn't come with a promise that consumers were "helping." And, more perspective: while the American Cancer Society isn't, say, Komen, they still don't use 100% of the money they receive to "fight" breast cancer. Only 70% of donations taken in by the organization go toward cancer research. So, if you spend $10 on pink stink from the NFL, only about 35 cents is going to finding a cure for breast cancer. And $4.50 goes right back to the NFL, where I like to imagine that it's spent on gas for a Lake Minnetonka pleasure cruise. For the cure.