Whether you watch football or it’s always on in the other room in your house (like mine), you know that the entire NFL has committed to wearing pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. It’s brilliant PR strategy. Team rivalries disappear when players all have the same insignia on their shirts. Some of most widely considered macho men in our culture all sporting hot pink in caps, gloves, socks, etc lends acceptance in a warrior culture to help address breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in women (behind lung cancer). Heart disease actually kills both men and women at the highest rate. One in 35 women will die from cancer. One in eight women will have some kind of invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. A very rare number of men get breast cancer. It is an insidious disease and needs to be fought.
But October is also Domestic Partner Violence Awareness month. More than 10 times as many women are abused each year than die of breast cancer. On average every DAY three women die at the hands of their partner. More women die from domestic violence than solders die in the war. Children who grow up in homes with this kind of violence either continue to be victims or become perpetrators of violence (men more than double as likely to further violence). Domestic violence is as prevalent in LGBT community as it is in heterosexual community.
A study by David Card at Berkeley and Gordon B. Dah UC San Diego shows a 10% increase in domestic violence when the home team loses in an upset by 8 points or more. Sports Illustrated columnist Jeff Benedict wrote a story on the violence committed by both pro and college athletes. On a college campus in a study he cited football players were only 3.3 percent of the male population, but had committed 19 percent of the crimes on campus were for sexual assault. Nearly 18% of the crimes committed in 2010 by professional athletes involved crimes against women the majority being domestic violence. I know not all football player or fans beat their partners–but a bunch do.
Getting a male industry (there aren’t women football players), predominately heterosexual to support breast cancer for the love of women’s breasts is a big coup, but not surprising. Getting a male industry to channel their violence on the field positively to stand against domestic violence would lend to considerable behavioral changes. So let the NFL wear Pink -and add the white ribbon.