Color Confusion Forces NFL to Say Goodbye to Pink Flags

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterOctober 7, 2013

Oct 6, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; A penalty flag that is pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month is seen on the turf during the fourth quarter of a game between the St. Louis Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars at The Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Most sports take time during the season to raise awareness for breast cancer and patients battling the disease by incorporating pink sports equipment on game day. However, according to reports, the NFL will stop its use of pink flags beginning with Week 6. 

NFL.com's Dan Hanzus reports the league is discontinuing its usual October use of pink flags because of the potential for confusion with penalty calls:

NFL spokesman Michael Signora confirmed to NFL Media that the flags -- used to promote the NFL's breast cancer awareness initiative -- will no longer be used after Week 5.

Other pink equipment will remain part of the NFL landscape through Week 7. That includes: cleats, wristbands, gloves, sideline hats, helmet decals, captains' patches, chin cups, shoe laces, skull caps, sideline towels, eye shield decals and quarterback towels.

Oct 28, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; NFL umpire Butch Hannah (40) shows the pink flag presented to him by 11 year old Dante Cano before the game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins at MetLIfe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TO
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Essentially, you can still look forward to a bevy of pinked-out games to remind you that cancer is awful and pink wristbands look mighty swell on television. 

Now some of you might have some concerns with the NFL deciding to axe what has become an annual tradition. Granted, judging by some of the reactions on Twitter, there aren't many of you:

Really, there isn't a need to make every last vestige of football pink, especially if it leads to confusion and possible delays on the field. We can all agree the advent of replay has already stalled the games enough. 

The real question moving forward might not be how much pink is on the field; rather, how much money is actually being donated to fight cancer and raise awareness of the disease.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 14:  Members of the Buffalo Bills wear pink during a game against the Arizona Cardinals for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Sports on Earth's Ryan Basen (h/t DeadspinJezebel) questions the efficacy of A Crucial Catch—the NFL's breast-cancer-awareness campaign—as a charitable cause every October:

This is where the campaign gets murky. While all proceeds from auctioned game-worn items go to breast cancer causes, the league declines to say what portion of the apparel sales do. Inquiring minds can estimate, however. Ticketmaster limited its 2012 A Crucial Catch contribution to 10 cents for every ticket sold last October (up to $40,000 total), and The New York Times reported that Old Navy donated only five percent of revenues to a foundation via a similar 2011 campaign featuring the Dallas Cowboys. 


The bottom line: The league hardly donates much to "fight" breast cancer. You'd need to use scientific notation with negative exponents to express what percentage of the NFL's annual revenues it contributes via A Crucial Catch. 

The entire article is a great read and well worth the time to consider for yourself whether October's pink tint is what it purports to be. 

Regardless, there will be a little less of the iconic color after this week's batch of games. 

Don't worry, because you will still see as much of the color as can possibly fill the screen—just not when it comes to calling a penalty on that huge offensive lineman with pink wristbands and pink cleats on.


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