The NFL: Pretty in Pink. (Or: I Used to Hate That Football Players Supported Breast Cancer Awareness, but That's Because I Was an Idiot.)

Sometimes a girl's gotta do a little research before she disses on something as important as Breast Cancer Awareness.
Publish date:
October 14, 2011
writing, nfl, Breast Cancer, mistakes, breast cancer awareness, how you can help, responsibility

Three years ago, the NFL started supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m not going to lie, when it first started, I was not elated. I felt the pink cleats, gloves, towels, wristbands and chin straps were distracting. I didn’t like the pink ribbons on the field or the pink padding around the uprights. I found the whole thing to be just too much and even wrote in a 49ers game review for a Bay Area website, “Why can’t they just stick a pink ribbon on their helmets and be done with it?”

What I didn’t know when I so naively wrote that was that every single one of those pink items that NFL players, coaches and refs wear in order to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness, as well as special game balls with pink ribbons are autographed and auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and team charities. Last year, the auction raised over $1 million for breast cancer research.

I am such a boob.

It’s really easy to go through life and say things without thinking. I would know since I do it all of the time. Sometimes it’s mostly harmless, like when I quietly joke about poor people with my friend Drew or compliment my neighbor on her haircut only to find out she’s bald and wears a wig.

However, sometimes it’s not quite as harmless, like the time I went on about how terrible babies are at a dinner party, not realizing the woman across from me was seven months pregnant because her teenie tiny basketball bump was hidden below the table. (To be fair, if I am, God forbid, ever pregnant -- which I hopefully won’t be because I am so on birth control -- I will be so effing fat everyone at the table will think I’m about to pop at four months. Of course, they can still talk about how awful babies are because, ugh, babies. SO HIGH MAINTENANCE. And selfish!)

And then there was the time my friend asked me what costume I was going to wear for his “wedding parade” (San Francisco hippies -- can't make this crap up) and I told him if I came at all it would be as a divorce lawyer. Or the time I made a really vulgar pedophile joke. To a group of mothers.

Basically: there’s a reason my personal blog is called “Oopsie Daisy.”

So yes. We all screw up and say insane things and I’m pretty forgiving of myself and others when that happens in day-to-day conversation. First of all, I don’t believe we should have to stop and think every time we open our mouths. I mean, I guess we could, but what’s the fun in that? Banter is one of the only reasons I leave the house in the morning! I love quick wit and off-the-cuff humor. I also love things that are completely inappropriate.

But it’s also really important to know your audience. Many people probably think I shouldn’t make pedophile jokes at all. I think if I say it to my best friend and we laugh, knowing how sick it is, it’s OK. Not commendable perhaps, but there’s not a ton of harm in saying things to your close friends you wouldn’t say in “mixed company.” We’re not all going to agree on that one, I know, but there you have it.

The thing is: When I wrote that post about the 49ers two years ago, I was writing it for “mixed company.” And I owed it to myself and to my readers to research all of the reassons why the players were wearing pink before writing it off with a statement like, “Sure, almost everyone has been affected by breast cancer and it’s a crucial that we find a cure (blah blah blah), but if we’re going to get the entire NFL involved, shouldn’t we concentrate on a disease that really hits home with the players? Like arthritis? Or herpes? Or better yet, shrinking testicles?”

And so I apologize. Two years later. But still. It was my responsibility as a writer to have the facts before I made a sweeping statement, even if it was my opinion, and I didn’t take the time to get all of the information. I will say that as someone who has been writing for “The Internet” for a few years now, it’s hard to make the time to do the hard research. Most of the stuff you’re reading is written by people who have full-time or freelance jobs and write for websites on the side. When you’re working at midnight to meet a deadline, you don’t always want to stop writing and look up more information.

But I think what I’ve realized recently, especially writing for the smart and discerning xoJane audience, is that it doesn’t matter if I don’t want to take the time to do it right; I owe it to all of us to make that effort.

So there you have it. Originally, this post was just going to be about why when you turn on (or away from) the football game this Sunday you’ll see a lot of guys decked out in pink. Sweet Samantha suggested I write about the history of it and how we could all support the cause. And while the NFL wants you to support the cause by buying their Breast Cancer Awareness gear, I say do whatever feels right to you.

Wear a pink ribbon on your shirt, volunteer, donate, share your story about how breast cancer affected you in the comments here and everywhere, and most important: Give yourself a breast self-exam once a month and, if you’re 40 or older, get a screening mammogram. Please.

OK, ladies (and gentleman), sorry to get all serious on your asses, I mean, breasts, but I have a lot of making up to do for my previous mistake. And I had to start somewhere.

That being said, I wonder if they’re auctioning off any autographed pink jock straps? So sweaty. So hot.

Follow @daisy on Twitter so that you never miss an inappropriate thing she says.