THE SANTA CLARA
January 8, 2014
Casual viewers of this weekend’s NFL playoff matchups may be surprised to see fans braving the frigid Green Bay weather not in their team colors, but in bright pink jackets, scarves, hats and even jerseys.
More experienced followers of the sport will recognize the pink apparel as the constant reminder of the league’s yearlong quest to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Even the most passionate fans don’t realize just how little of the revenue gathered through the sale of pink merchandise actually goes to breast cancer research.
As league spokesman Brian McCarthy noted, the NFL keeps a 12.5 percent royalty from the sale of pink merchandise and “donates 90 percent of that royalty directly to the American Cancer Society.”
Thus, when a pink Colin Kaepernick jersey sells for $100, the NFL gets roughly $12.50 and gives $11.25 of that to the ACS which then gives 71.2 percent of that $11.25 to cancer research and keeps the rest. So of that initial $100, a whopping eight dollars and one cent will be used for research. That 8.01 percent is slightly over half the research spending of Susan G. Komen, the charity under malicious fire for setting a mere 15 percent of its proceeds aside for research while its CEO brings home a grossly exorbitant paycheck.
So where does the rest of the money go?
According to Cork Gaines at Business Insider, “The remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5 percent) and the company that sells the merchandise (50 percent).”
At first glance, such a division seems reasonable. However, the majority of the pink merchandise is being sold on the NFL’s website or by individual teams, making the NFL the primary retailer, meaning that it keeps almost half of the proceeds of its “charity.”
It is not certain what the NFL does with the money, although the league claims that leftover proceeds go to its Crucial Catch program, which aims to raise awareness of breast cancer. While this campaign is certainly admirable, it is safe to say that we are well aware of breast cancer and would much rather see our money put into research for a cure of the disease that affects roughly one in eight women during their lifetimes.
Additionally, the tax-exempt organization, which looks to earn $25 billion a year by 2027, lauds itself for donating $1 million a year to ACS since 2009. That is roughly one ten thousandth of the NFL’s current revenue of $10 billion, or one fourth of the revenue the league makes for one 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl.
Pardon me while I rush to thank Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, who made over $44 million last year, for his outrageously gracious donation.
The NFL should set aside 100 percent of its profits from the sale of pink merchandise to breast cancer. Then it should add a few zeros to its yearly donation as well. After a year filled with violence against women and other domestic issues, the NFL has a serious image problem. Leading the charge against breast cancer instead of using it as an excuse to pad its pockets would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Breast cancer affects all of us, whether it be we ourselves who receive the devastating diagnosis, or our loved ones who are stricken by the most common form of cancer for women around the world. The fact that such a wide reaching disease can be exploited for financial gain is nothing short of despicable.
Thomas Curran-Levett is a junior political science major and the editor of the Opinion section.