Pink didn’t used to be a football color. Vince Lombardi hated pink. Dick Butkus has never worn pink in his life. Lawrence Taylor sees pink and laughs. Muddy brown – that’s a football color. Black and blue, yes. Pink? Unless we’re talking about a white jersey that got washed with something red, no way.
These days, Vince might be rolling over in his grave. Pink is suddenly in. Pink wristbands, pink socks, pink undershirts, pink bandanas. It’s football, with a splash of the most un-football like color.
If Vince knew the story, he’d understand.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was given that title in 1985. In 1993, the pink ribbon became a symbol for breast cancer fundraising, and almost 20 years later, pink has taken over.
The sports world is all in. Teams everywhere, and at every level have embraced pink – and it’s an amazing thing to see. Whether they’re fundraising in conjunction with a pink-out or just joining in the quest for awareness, they’re making a difference.
I don’t know exactly when it started. It may have been in 2006, when Major League Baseball players began using pink bats on Mother’s Day for breast cancer awareness.
If that was the first step, it sparked quite a movement. A few years ago, I started to see pink everywhere I went, no small feat for a sportswriter. Now, if it’s October and you’re not wearing pink on the field, you’re out of style.
Around here, my first recollection of the pink movement was the Toll Gate football team’s efforts. In 2009, with the NFL as an example, the Titans wore pink gear for homecoming and donated the concession stand proceeds to the American Cancer Society. The next week, they walked as a team in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Roger Williams Park.
It was a cool story – tough football players wearing pink. And more importantly, it was a refreshing story of kids coming together to do something positive.
Since then, these kinds of stories have become commonplace. The front page of this week’s Cranston Herald features a photo of Cranston West students dressed in pink, with 200 pink ribbons ready to be sold at school. Warwick Vets went pink last Friday, first in school and then on the athletic fields. The football team’s game was broadcast on Cox Sports. The ’Canes wore their pink proudly.
Students at Pilgrim have turned in similar efforts. Hendricken will have a pink-out for its homecoming game this Friday. The Cranston East baseball team fundraised and had a breast cancer awareness day last year for the mother of a player who was suffering from the disease. Edgewood Girls’ Softball went crazy with a pink-out last spring. The girls may have liked it a little more than the football players.
As common as the stories are becoming, they’re no less important. The cause is real. About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2011, more than 39,000 women were expected to die from breast cancer.
When teams add pink to their colors, they’re doing their part to change that. People have realized that something as simple as a pink sweatband on a quarterback’s arm can raise awareness, and can be a spark for a fundraising effort. Kudos to them for running with it.
As a sportswriter, I’m not supposed to cheer for the teams cover. When I’m getting dressed in the morning, I actually think about what teams I’m seeing that day, so I’ll avoid wearing their colors.
But on this, I’ll make an exception.
I need some pink.
William Geoghegan is the sports editor for the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and email@example.com.