After eight straight Octobers of painting fields, cleats, and helmets with pink ribbons, the NFL has decided to discontinue its "pink October" initiative, The MMBQ reports.
Since 2009, NFL games in the month of October have featured football players wearing pink in support of awareness and screening initiatives alongside the American Cancer Society. However, the league will now expand the campaign in an effort to raise awareness and screening for other forms of cancer as well.
The new campaign, which will keep the original name of "A Crucial Catch," will allow individual teams to choose the cause that they'll champion during a three-week window in October.
The move comes after years of criticism that the NFL's "pinkwashing" actually does very little for breast cancer patients in terms of funding research for the cure. The new campaign will still focus on education and screenings, instead of raising funds for research.
In the NFL's defense, the issue of screenings was the area the ACS asked the NFL to help with originally. “Screenings are one of the biggest gaps in underserved communities,” Sharon Byers, the chief marketing and development officer for the ACS, told the MMBQ.
But critics say breast cancer screening and awareness already get so much attention, and the pink ribbons that you see every October aren't doing enough to truly help save lives from breast cancer. In fact, while we've raised tons of money for breast cancer awareness and research, many terminal breast cancer patients feel they have been forgotten.
A Crucial Catch will go into effect next season in 2017. While teams can still choose to play in support of breast cancer awareness, they now also have the option to champion other causes. The new initiative could offer other diseases, including childhood cancers and rare cancers, some much-needed airtime and attention.