OPINION – It can be difficult to figure out the language of the ribbon.
We’ve seen yellow ribbons, pink ribbons, blue ribbons, purple ribbons, all trotted out to raise awareness about one important issue or another.
If you have even half an interest in the National Football League, you’ve seen a lot of pink ribbons lately. In fact, the NFL is awash in pink this month as the league works to raise awareness of breast cancer and participates in efforts to fund researchers chasing a cure. The jerseys, wristbands, towels, hats, and other assorted gear used by players, coaches, and the refs during games this month will be placed in an online NFL auction, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
The league, however, is being blitzed by critics who are trying to sack the effort because only 5 percent of the funds raised will go to the ACS. The remainder of the profits will go to the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” breast cancer awareness program.
While I’d like to see a lot more of that money go into research, I have to back down from criticism.
I have to back down because of the millions of men and women who watch the NFL on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday, who need to hear a message of hope.
I have to back down because of the peer pressure the NFL can create to, hopefully, stimulate additional awareness programs among other segments of corporate America.
I have to back down because, well, when a person is battling cancer, they not only want, but need as many people in their corner as they can muster. Sometimes, family and so-called friends just aren’t there. Sometimes, they choose to make it a more private battle, trying to infuse their lives with as much “normalcy” as possible.
I am not trying to be an apologist for the league, but I have to say that at least it supports this incredibly important cause, and, yes, I would love to see 90 percent or more of the money go to the charities, but I am also a realist and understand that those jerseys, cleats, towels and other items cost money and that awareness programs give birth to larger programs to help with funding mammograms for indigent women and teaching them how to perform self-examinations.
If Nike, Cooper, and the other equipment manufacturers donated or discounted the products that will eventually go up for auction, it would be a different story. Do I wish it could be different? Of course. But, I find comfort in the NFL using its bully pulpit to encourage women to learn to check themselves, have mammograms, and realize that they are not alone, that others care.
There are some who think the whole idea of pink jerseys, pink bracelets, and other items are a waste of time, that the return on your investment is not large enough, that buying these bracelets and other objects, is an easy, lazy way to get involved.
But, there’s more going on than pink bracelets and ribbons and, well, we are a fairly lazy society in many respects, looking for an easy way to get involved, whether to ease our collective conscience or make a difference.
In St. George, we have a large number of people involved in local Relay for Life events. This weekend, we have the “Save A Sister Run,” a 5k, 1 mile, 10k race to raise funds for Dixie Regional Medical Center’s breast cancer services (to sign up, contact Aaron Metler, firstname.lastname@example.org, 435-627-4504.)
Maybe you can’t run, maybe you can. Maybe you can only afford to drop a buck on a pink bracelet, maybe you can do more.
The bottom line here is this: Do something, whether it’s to support the breast cancer awareness events this month, or to support research or awareness programs for prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, or leukemia, or any of the other horrid diseases.
We know about cancer in Southern Utah. We’ve had more than our share, primarily as a result of the radioactive fallout dropped here during the Cold War. We know. We know because we have all been touched by it in one way or another; I have, you have, we all have. I have seen the effects of breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, throat cancer, brain cancer, and, well, we have not done enough to create more awareness or fund more research. So, pardon me if I find comfort in viewing the world through pink-colored glasses not only now, but year-‘round.
It’s far too easy to be cynical of these kinds of efforts, to scoff at them and write them off as marketing or image-control activities.
The truth is, when that diagnosis is made, all of that cynicism goes out the window.
A cancer patient, after all, doesn’t care how silly Eli Manning, Tim Tebow, or Drew Brees may look in pink. All they know is that somebody who they have never met, is huddling up for their team.
And, that’s all that matters.
So, thank you NFL, and anybody else willing to do something, anything, to get into this scrap.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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