Op-Ed: NFL cancer merchandise contributes little

Posted Oct 19, 2013 by Tim Sandle
Only a tiny amount of the money made from breast cancer-themed football merchandise, sold at NFL games, actually supports efforts to combat the disease.
Timothy McKenna/Creative Commons
In the U.S., many National Football League (NFL) games this month are awash with pink as part of a campaign to raise funds for the American Cancer Society (ACS). However, analysis reveals that only a small proportion of the sales from the merchandise finds its way to cancer research.
On paper, all proceeds from sales of breast cancer-themed merchandise go to the Society's Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program, which aims to get more women screened for breast cancer. The problem is with defining what "all proceeds" actually means.
According to Business Insider, $11.25 out of every $100 earned from the NFL themed gear goes to the cancer charity. The majority of the remaining income goes to retailers, many of which are NFL teams, and manufacturers. To add to this, there are the administrative costs of the ACS as well. The report concludes that: “In the end, after everybody has taken their cut, only 8.01 percent of money spent on pink NFL merchandise is actually going towards cancer research."
To add to the debate, blogger Ryan Basen has written at Sports on Earth that “the league hardly donates much to 'fight' breast cancer. You'd need to use scientific notation with negative exponents to express what percentage of the NFL's annual revenues it contributes via A Crucial Catch.”
One could argue that the NFL merchandise helps 'raise the profile' of cancer and the need to fund research. However, it could be argued that those wishing to support cancer research should perhaps consider making a direct charitable contribution instead.