With October upon us, NFL fans are hoping now is when they really start to figure out who their teams are and what their identities will be in 2014. Another expectation: the bathing of pink in everything NFL for the next four weeks. This year, though, expect a more conventional October.
According to UniWatch, the NFL is toning down the pink this October. We aren’t completely sure what that means other than a “pink free” slate of national TV games. UniWatch said the plan for less pink is something that’s been in progress for some time and is in no way related to the league’s recent domestic violence issues, but that doesn’t make the timing any better.
Consider this: the NFL has already come under fire in recent years when questions about just how much of their Pinktober profits were going toward breast cancer awareness. It started with a tweet from ESPN’s Darren Rovell:
On pink gear, the NFL says it takes a 25% royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90% of royalty to American Cancer Society
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 11, 2013
Business Insider’s Cork Gaines further broke that down, saying that: For a $100 purchase, the NFL will get $12.50, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) takes $11.25 of that. The ACS uses 71.2% of profits toward actual research, so $8.01 of every $100 goes toward finding a cure.
The “glass half full” side of me says that’s $8.01 (on every $100) more than the ACS was getting before for the cause. While that’s true, it’s also deceptive. Fans aren’t feeding their money into the system just because they think the pink gear looks good. They want to feel like they’re supporting a cause and that one of their favorite leagues is in it with them. I think most would be disappointed to hear that their $80 Pinktober Packers hoodie is only generating $6.40 for the cause.
And before you point out that the NFL is only taking 1.25% of the profits themselves, remember this. The retailer selling the products gets 50% of the total profit, and more times than not the NFL itself is that retailer.
Is the deception part of the reason for the tone down process? We likely will never know.
What I do know is that the NFL, and its embattled commissioner Roger Goodell, is missing a golden, err…purple, opportunity.
October isn’t just about the pink of breast cancer awareness. The month most well known for orange-and-black also holds the purple of domestic violence awareness.
If you’re going to tone down the pink, why not hype the purple for a month? Commissioner Goodell says he wants to help. It seems an easy way to start (and I stress this is a start, not a solution) is to give at least as much to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as the 11% that the American Cancer Society brings in.
I won’t labor the conversation with an explanation. Everyone knows about the PR and morality nightmare the league has put itself through, so I’ll start and end my point by naming the six NFL players involved or still allegedly involved in abuse scandals in just the last twelve months (via UT San Diego):
- Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer (arrested for punching his wife, Kayla, in the nose and throwing a shoe at his infant son)
- Jets WR Quincy Enunwa (arrested and charged with causing bodily injury by pulling a woman off a bed, injuring her head and finger)
- 49ers DT Ray McDonald (arrested on suspicion of hitting his pregnant girlfriend)
- Panthers DE Greg Hardy (convicted on two misdemeanor charges after assaulting and threatening the life of his girlfriend)
- Ravens RB Ray Rice (arrested and charged after punching out his fiance in a casino elevator)
- Vikings CB AJ Jefferson (arrested and charged after choking his girlfriend in a fight)
The number doesn’t seem like much, but consider this. All six of those names have made major headlines in the past year. A likely majority of the other 10 million victims of domestic violence never saw their name or story in newspapers or on TV. These six instances put the league in a position to be a better voice for those other 10 million, so NFL: