Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Throwing a Flag on Breast Cancer

The NFL in October can only mean one thing, the color pink. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when that most testosterone infused game becomes infested with pink arm bands, pink towels, and this past weekend even pink penalty flags, in honor of the single most hyped disease since the Bubonic Plague, breast cancer. For an entire month football fans have their awareness raised to dizzying heights, and money is raised in a race for the cure. A few observations.

Breast cancer is the third leading cause of death among women in the United States, behind heart disease and lung cancer. My mother had breast cancer and one of my best friends is suffering with it even now. So, why do I feel oddly annoyed when I see 300 pound men running around on a football field wearing pink cleats? Why does finding a cure for breast cancer seem like such a commercialized crusade? More importantly, how on Earth did the National Football League manage to get co-opted by the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

Then, it hit me. Never take your eye off the money. After all, the NFL isn’t about football anymore; the NFL is a marketing colossus. This whole breast cancer thing is about expanding the brand. Football has locked up practically every demographic of men in America, now it’s time to lock up the women too! Brilliant.

But still, breast cancer? If heart disease and lung cancer kill more women every year than breast cancer, why not hype those? I guess since men are far more interested in breasts than lungs, the question answers itself. But, who plays football? Men. And what kills 30,000 men every year? That’s right, prostate cancer! So, how about a month long propaganda blitz about prostate cancer? The problem would be coming up with a signature color. What color would be appropriate for such a disease? Yellow? Black? Perhaps rust, to symbolize leaky pipes? The possibilities are endless. If breast cancer can become the cause célèbre of professional football, maybe prostate cancer can get a gig with the WNBA or the LPGA?