Bioethics Blogs

A Crucial Catch: Ethics, the NFL, and Public Health Advocacy

by Macey L. Henderson, J.D.

I enjoy watching my favorite NFL teams and players during football season. As the daughter of a local sports attorney who grew up down the street from the Indianapolis Colts complex, I have always been exposed to programs and events that highlight advocacy that the NFL and their respective team markets provide for communities year after year through high profile efforts.

How can the most lucrative sports organization with north of $9 billion revenue help public health? In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign will again focus the month of October’s on the importance of annual breast cancer screenings particularly for women over 40 years old. The statistics show that 1 in 8 American women will have a lifetime risk of developing the disease.

As screening awareness is the focus of this campaign, the NFL should be applauded for encouraging preventative measures to change behavior and for encouraging the public to seek out screening tests in order to catch breast cancer in its earliest stages. In addition, like other efforts including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign can offer greater social support and reduce isolation for people with the disease. These large scale public campaigns fueled by media giants such as the NFL often reach a variety of audiences and can improve levels of support for families and communities.

However, the NFL’s breast cancer awareness efforts have not gone without criticism. The most lucrative organization in professional sports has been accused of not promoting public health, and for even being manipulative.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.