Did I really make it through October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, without blogging about the connection between sport and physical activity and breast cancer activism?
Apparently I did. Luckily this story out of Canada has come along and provided me an entry into this discussion. And actually, these days, most pink/breast cancer campaigns are not October-specific. For example, I could pick up a can of pink tennis balls to take to the court with me any time--and probably a pink racquet bag as well.
And in Toronto this weekend, proceeds from ticket sales from the games of University of Toronto's women's team are being donated to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It is the first Varsity Blues Think Pink weekend, the slogan for which is "Cheer Blue, Think Pink." Many schools are being encouraged to host Think Pink weekends.
I find it interesting that it's women's teams that are being asked to host these events. But, of course, I also have a problem with the paternalism that comes out when professional men's teams in the US have done breast cancer awareness events.
This is probably because, in general, I have a healthy amount of skepticism (aka cynicism) when it comes to breast cancer awareness events and products. I am not condemning this particular event because I don't know all the facts and realities behind it. It's possible that the CBCF is better than some of the American foundations that court the money of carcinogen-producing companies. It looks likely that the weekend event will garner more in proceeds than it spent in advertising (not always the case with breast cancer events and products).
But we don't really know until we ask the questions and do a little digging. And most of us would rather just go buy a pink product or run a 5K, think we're helping other women, and go on our way, in part because we don't know the questions to ask and we don't see how such campaigns have become big business.
If you're interested in knowing more about this, I cannot recommend highly enough Samantha King's book Pink Ribbons, Inc. which is full of statistics, empirical evidence, and frank discussion about the corporatization of breast cancer. It includes information about pink products and events like the Race for a Cure and other runs, walks, and sport/physical activity events. You should also check out the Think Before You Pink website.