Purple is the new pink, time for sports to embrace it

Every October, a deluge of pink clothing engulfs NFL players and fans as part of the league’s breast cancer awareness campaign.

In light of recent events surrounding the league and its handling of bullying and domestic violence, the NFL should make room for another color — purple.

While there is nothing wrong with spreading awareness for breast cancer by adorning players in the color pink, the NFL should reconsider how it goes about its breast cancer awareness campaign.

One proposal is to designate a month for domestic violence as well as bullying awareness and prevention, signified by purple accessories, the color of both causes.

During October, athletes from the NFL to Guilford College show their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink cleats, socks, wristbands and more as part of their uniforms.

“The football team collected over $250 this month,” said Chris Campolieta, junior and cornerback on the Guilford football team, in an email interview.

“I have a fundraiser where I order bracelets and give them to our players for donations. This year the bands say #TeamPatsy to honor my mother, who passed away from cancer.”

Campolieta and his teammates show support for the cause by wearing pink wristbands during games.

Promoting the fight against breast cancer is a good thing to do.

However, there are often problems with the way people approach this cause, especially the NFL’s approach.

There have been criticisms in the past that A Crucial Catch, the NFL campaign to raise money for breast cancer outreach and screenings, lacked transparency about how much of the proceeds actually goes to research and how much is profit.

This, however, is not the only issue with the pink campaign. The other problem is that this is the only kind of advocacy that the NFL performs on such a large scale. Meanwhile, issues which hit close to home for the NFL are neglected.

“I think (athletes wearing purple for anti-bullying) would be great,” said Chris Rusiewicz, head coach of the Guilford football team, in an email interview. “Bullying and abuse are happening at all levels and can be controlled with awareness.”

Problems with bullying and domestic abuse are pervasive, and the NFL is no exception. Because of the level of admiration the public holds for professional football players, people often turn a blind eye to their crimes.

Because of the abundance of money the players bring to the league, the NFL often turns a blind eye as well.

This culture of excusing the transgressions of famous athletes allows bullying and abuse to run rampant, from multiple cases of domestic violence to harassment between teammates.

“Whether they chose it or not, (players) are role models for kids, and that means that they have an innate responsibility to address issues,” said sophomore Sadie Hunter in an email interview. “Accountability is so important for everyone, including professional sports players.”

The NFL needs to hold any player accountable for reprehensible actions while dealing with underlying issues that cause these incidents to occur in the first place.

One way to deal with underlying causes is to speak out, both vocally and symbolically, through the use of purple ribbons on uniforms and gear.

“I think the NFL should promote wearing purple, but not as a way to appease the public and appear as if they are more invested in the issue than they actually are,” said first-year and member of the cross-country team Sommer Fanney.

“They should promote wearing purple, along with resolving the issues themselves.”

Despite criticisms, the campaign to wear pink makes a difference in raising awareness and in raising money for the cause, though it must lead to direct action to make a real difference.

Similarly, if bullying and domestic violence were brought to the public’s attention with the same level of exposure as breast cancer awareness, it could change the way people see an issue that is often considered to be a taboo subject, but is no less important for the well-being of women than breast cancer awareness.

“If it were marketed the same way as breast cancer awareness, I think it would catch like wildfire,” said first-year and member of the cross-country team Amaris Clay.

“If that were to become a thing, I would definitely wear purple. I mean, I might start doing it now.”