In October, We Wear Pink

Anthony Tillman

We find ourselves in the heart of October. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Halloween, then we’re on to November. But before November hits and the moustaches and leg hairs begin to grow, an even bigger change is going to happen. No, I’m not talking about the trading of our light shirts for our chunky sweaters; I’m talking about the end of the trend where bright pink accessories are donned among athletes.

One may wonder how 300-pound football players can prance around the field covered in pink and still earn the crowds approval. It puzzles me from time to time. It’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its recognized color is pink. Simple right?

The fact that such a serious disease is recognized on such a large scale is excellent. I find it particularly difficult to say the same about the trend that entails athletes who wear pink accessories in a desperate attempt to achieve the most ‘swag’ on their respective team. It is estimated that more than 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Of the 230,000 women to be diagnosed, 40,000 are expected to die as a result. My question to the athletes participating in the trend is are they doing it because of self-interest or for a greater, more proactive cause?


Big sporting brands like Nike, Reebok, and Under Amour cash in on this trend. I have seen the color pink infect everything from athletic tape, gloves, and even cleats. I search, but still fail to justify buying a pair of pink cleats that cost nearly $100 without personal glorification serving as the motive. Considering the fact that a fall sport is likely to only have a handful of competitions during the month of October, I find it to be an unwise investment.

Observing what happens in sports during October is similar to watching frantic parents rush out to buy holiday gifts for their young ones. It’s consumerism at its best. Just as Christmas has assumed such a commercialized façade, October has done the same. Go ahead, take a trip to your local sporting goods store and try to find pink accessories. It’s going to be a hit or miss experience because the store has either gotten a new shipment, or yesterday’s shipment has already sold out.

Now, I’d hate to discredit any athletes who do in fact wear pink for reasons vested in other places than themselves. Unfortunately for the athletes with good intentions, one self-absorbed athlete can discredit the rest. Another point I wish to bring to light, is if an athlete were immediately affected by breast cancer, would it be acceptable for that athlete to wear pink for the duration of his or her season? You might think, sure, why not? But the sad truth is that so many people are wrapped up in trends and fads, that they would bash someone for doing so, which in my opinion is ignorant. I don’t believe a calendar should tell someone when he or she can or cannot wear a certain accessory if it serves to represent an issue as serious as breast cancer.

If athletes did in fact know the severity of breast cancer and they had nothing to show for their participation in the fight against it, would they be likely to still sport those pink socks? How about that armband? Not likely.

If more people were aware and active in the fight against breast cancer, than I think it would be absolutely appropriate to represent their efforts by wearing pink. However, morality is compromised when people wear it to give their swagger an unearned boost. When athletes sport their pink accessories, what are they really saying? Is it merely just a fashion statement?