Prostate Cancer Foundation Asks NFL to Go Blue

I’ve been wondering about this myself recently, and, since one of the core principles of Fathers and Families is gender equality, I thought I’d do a piece on it. 

Anyone who’s even caught a fleeting glimpse of an NFL football game in the past month has noticed the proliferation of pink.  Pink sweat bands, pink towels, pink chin straps, pink shoes, all produce striking visual highlights to the uniforms.

And it doesn’t take long to figure out where all that pink is coming from.  No, accessorizing has not made into professional football.  The NFL has apparently agreed with the American Cancer Society to express support for breast cancer sufferers by wearing pink.  My understanding is that it’s up to individual players to wear the color or not, but I’ve seen next to none who aren’t wearing at least a little.

And I like that.  It’s good to see the guys giving a visual sign of caring about those who suffer from a disease that the players will almost certainly never contract.  I understand that it’s an easy thing to do.  What does it cost any player to slip on a wrist band that’s pink instead of white or one of his team’s colors?  And it’s not like football players wearing pink will produce some miraculous breakthrough in breast cancer research even though the effort is apparently aimed at raising money for it.

No, it’s mostly a statement, prompted by the American Cancer Society, that reminds us of the pain, anguish and premature death caused by a terrible illness.  That’s what the ACS wanted and that’s what the players gave.  I think it’s a good thing even if it won’t much change the world of breast cancer sufferers.

But what I’ve been wondering is whether anyone would do the same for prostate cancer.  From what I can gather, the ACS didn’t think of that.  It’s not that prostate cancer doesn’t affect millions of American men; it’s not that it doesn’t kill around 30,000 each year; and it’s not that prostate cancer isn’t vastly underfunded compared to breast cancer as these figures from the organization Women Against Prostate Cancer show:

• Funding for gender research at NIH includes:
     i. $ 4,376,000,000 for women”s health (breast cancer, cervica cancer, ovarian cancer, and “women”s health’)
     ii. And $345,000,000 for men”s health (prostate cancer)
• Funding for programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
     i. $ 309,486,000 for breast and cervical cancer
     ii. $ 13,243,000 for prostate cancer

The NIH figures are for 2008.

Now the Prostate Cancer Foundation is asking people to sign a petition requesting that the NFL do something similar to raise awareness of prostate cancer.  Here’s an article about that effort (Kansas City Now, 10/13/10). 

I think that’s a good idea, but what I’d really like to see is the WNBA do it.  After all, there’s a certain largeness of spirit that’s suggested by a group of men going to bat (so to speak) for awareness of breast cancer, a disease they will almost certainly never get themselves.

Not so prostate cancer, a disease some of the guys currently in the league will unquestionably contract at some point in their lives.  As such, prostate cancer awareness and support for victims promoted by a group of men bears a distinctly self-serving taint that wouldn’t be part of the same effort done by women.

So I’d like the Prostate Cancer Foundation to contact the WNBA and see if, next season, the women would consent to wearing blue wrist bands, head bands, etc.  And, like the NFL and the guys who announce the games, they could make sure to let everyone know what the blue was all about – raising awareness and hopefully funding to combat a disease that takes the lives of 30,000 American men every year.

Here’s the site for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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