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Major league sports and prostate cancer … a challenge

Posted Feb 05 2011 12:00am

So here in the USA, Major League Baseball has been a long-time supporter of a significant initiative to spread awareness of prostate cancer.

In a media release issued yesterday, the MLB states that: “Each Father’s Day since 1997, MLB and [the Prostate Cancer Foundation ] have worked together to increase awareness and early detection of prostate cancer while raising more than $38 million for prostate cancer research.” In addition, and also for many years, Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure (formerly known as Ed Randall’s Bat for the Cure) has been working with the minor baseball league teams to spread awareness about prostate cancer.

The association between the other major sports in the USA and prostate cancer has been less strong. This is not to say that they don’t all have cancer support programs, because they do, but when one considers that males are the primary audiences (and players) in all four of the major sports American football, ice hockey, basketball, and baseball (not to mention golf) it would be not unreasonable to hope that the owners and players would be willing to make a greater effort to support sound awareness of the risk of prostate cancer and much more importantly to help to raise more money for research into better diagnosis and treatment.

This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of small initiatives:

  • The AUA Foundation has been running an awareness initiative for the past 2 years with the NFL Player Foundation, with Michael Haynes as the spokesperson; they have also been conducting the “ Know Your Stats ” initiative with the NFL itself.
  • Several NBA teams have hosted awareness initiatives associated with specific players who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer (see, for example, the Chicago Bulls initiative again with Ed Randall’s Bat for a Cure earlier this year, in memory of Johnny “Red” Kerr).
  • At the beginning of the current 2010-11 season the NHL and the NHL Players Association  agreed to work with ZERO The Project to End Prostate Cancer to host prostate cancer awareness events “at select games throughout the NHL season.”

Earlier this year, Dan Zenka of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and other representatives of the Prostate Cancer Roundtable met with the NFL to discuss expanding the involvement of the NFL in raising awareness and funding for prostate cancer research. On this web site we published an “open e-mail” on the subject to Commissioner Goodell and his senior staff.

So here’s the challenge. Do you know personally a major league sports owner or player? Have you ever asked that person what they know about prostate cancer? Have you ever suggested to them that an extra $100 million a year for the Prostate Cancer Foundation could help to further revolutionize the management of prostate cancer in America and around the world? Imagine that every ticket to every major league game in the nation every year came with a statement that one single dollar of the cost of that ticket would be donated to prostate cancer research. Would that stop people buying a ticket? Of course not. It would probably make most men (who are the purchasers of most of those tickets) feel better about their purchase. And it would easily raise $100 million in research funds for prostate cancer every single year. Think about it! Is there anything you can do to make that happen?

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