The Oregon Ducks will wear pink helmets—in addition to pink socks, cleats, wristbands and gloves—on Saturday against Washington State to raise awareness for breast cancer.
The team is also doing it to help raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which is a charity that has raised $2.6 million for research and support programs for women's cancer, according to the foundation's official website. Yow, the former women's basketball coach for North Carolina State, died of breast cancer in 2009.
According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, the team will auction off 25 helmets signed by former Oregon greats, like Dan Fouts and Joey Harrington.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, many teams in all sports are wearing pink gear, like socks and wristbands. But Oregon is taking it a step further with the helmets.
This is especially important in light of a report by Darren Rovell of ESPN that notes that the NFL takes some of the proceeds of breast cancer awareness merchandise:
On pink gear, the NFL says it takes a 25% royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90% of royalty to American Cancer Society— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 11, 2013
The Yahoo Sports Twitter page showcases what the unis will look like:
Besides looking awesome, this is an important step taken by the Ducks and is an example all teams should follow.
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Nearly 40,000 of those women (a little over 17 percent), will succumb to the disease.
It is an insidious disease. And while wearing the helmets might not cure the ailment, it raises an incredible amount of awareness.
The Ducks are ranked No. 2 overall in the nation, and generate a ton of media attention. All eyes will be on the team, and the expressed support for breast cancer and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund will shine brightly. It would not be a surprise if many of the fans watching the game decided to donate to the cause.
Head coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement to ESPN:
Cancer has touched so many lives and hopefully, together with Nike and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, we can help create awareness and help raise money for the fight against women's cancers. It is an honor to join coach Yow's team in a fight that unites us all.
Sports are a natural platform for social good. As the Ducks continue to receive positive media attention for their efforts, more teams would be wise to follow suit.
It doesn't have to be just for breast cancer awareness. A team could wear a light blue helmet for prostate cancer awareness, or a purple helmet for bullying and harassment prevention. Using the platform of national television and millions of fans will only further support and outreach for the cause.
Should More Teams Follow Oregon's Lead?
It's time for sports teams, collegiate and professional, to take a more active stance on issues like this. This is a platform that reaches a wide-ranging demographic. It can serve an incredible role in awareness, prevention and fundraising.
Oregon has long experimented with different uniform styles, generating a lot of buzz in the collegiate world. But this is the best version yet.
Using their platform as one of the best and most popular teams in sports to promote a just and worthy cause is beyond admirable. Taking it further by wearing pink helmets is a logical progression of uniform design in support of causes.
It would be fantastic if other teams, in all leagues, followed their lead. The more awareness, the more support, the better.