High School Sports Fight Breast Cancer

Don’t be surprised if you see one of your local high school football teams all decked out in pink for a big game! From Lowell, Michigan to Russell, Kentucky and further south to Orlando, Florida…high school football teams are joining in the fight against breast cancer. Even a few colleges, like the Michigan State Spartans are using the opportunity that a stadium/arena full of people provides to promote breast cancer awareness and raise funds for cancer research. Judging by the results, it’s a big hit in the communities that have tried it.

If you want to run a promotion like this with your school, you’ll want to start with the school’s athletic office. Many states have rules governing the color of uniforms that are worn on game day. While a minor point, I haven’t heard of any state association refusing the request, you’ll want to check with the school just to be sure. Either you or the Athletic Director will most likely need to get approval from the Athletic Association that governs your school. In Michigan, it’s the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Once you’ve got the go ahead from the school and the coaching staff, and chosen a chairperson to run the event, it’s really just a matter of lining up what you want to do, and asking some parents if they’d be willing to help out. As far as publicity goes, that should be easy.   Radio, TV, and the local paper all like a good story, and they don’t get much better than this. Your event will no doubt make the evening news and land on the front page of your paper! Regardless of who wins the game, everybody wins as you raise funds for a worthy cause and help keep the focus on cancer awareness and education.

You’ll probably find that many of the kids on the football team have someone in their family, or know of a friend that has been affected by cancer, and they’ll get pretty fired up about the idea. One team can wear “pink jerseys”, either purchased, or you can dye white jerseys pink for this special game. The other team can wear their normal school colors, though you might have them sport a pink ribbon on their helmets.

In place of the players name on the back of the jersey, you could allow the jerseys to be sponsored with the name of someone who has battled cancer. Prior to the game, the field announcer could read off the players’ numbers, and the name of their sponsor. “…and number 76 on the Whitmore Tigers is playing for Mary Craddeck.”

The Cheer Squad will likely want to sport pink colors as well. They’re a little easier to outfit in pink! Promotional products to consider for the girls include pink sox, headbands, tops, shorts, and naturally real pink ribbons for their hair.
It always helps to have a name for the “Big Game”. Here are a few that have been used:
“Fill The Gym For A Cure”
“The Cancer Classic”
“Think Pink”
“Pink and Blue Classic” Breast/Prostate cancer awareness
“Football For A Cure”
At some point, you’ll want to determine who gets the money you raise. Organizations that are typically the recipient include the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, or perhaps the Cancer Institute at your local hospital. You can always split your proceeds as well.

Now that you’ve got the sports team dressed in pink, and your cheer squad all decked out, what about the fans? Some schools encourage fans to wear pink, but most opt to have a special t-shirt designed and printed just for the event. Yes, it’s usually a pink shirt! This also doubles as a fundraiser. If you allow folks in the community to buy the shirts ahead of time, you can always offer “Free Entry” to the game when they wear their shirt. Be sure to have more shirts available at the game for sale as well.

A natural place to consider selling your shirts pregame would be the school’s spirit store, a sporting goods or department store, that is, a business that normally sells clothing. Don’t rule out other venues that might not be as obvious, like a credit union or bank. As they say, that’s where the money is.

Sponsorships. Yes, you can consider sponsorships for all of these items individually, or have one large sponsor. Either way, you can add the sponsors logo to the back of your t-shirts, or incorporate their logo in to the design. You can also allow them to hang banners in the stadium or arena, and print flyers to promote the game.

This should be enough to get your mind working. Here’s a checklist of promotional items that can reinforce your event, provide a commemoration, and help raise money. You may not want, or choose to use all these items, but the list is here for your convenience. I’m sure you’ll want most of these in pink for breast cancer awareness, or perhaps blue for prostate awareness.

[ ] Pink Jerseys for the team members and coaching staff
[ ] Pink T-shirts for fans(really makes a statement when the stadium is full!)
[ ] Pink goal post pads. Or just add a big pink ribbon cut out of vinyl.
[ ] Pink ribbon at the 50-Yard line on the field
[ ] Rally towels. These can be pink, or white with a pink imprint
[ ] Pink caps
[ ] Pink water bottles
[ ] Snow cones! Yes, a popular concession item are pink snow cones.
[ ] Plastic cups imprinted for the game
[ ] Special helmet decal
[ ] Wristbands
[ ] Headbands
[ ] Pink basketball net (Obviously, this is for basketball promotions!)
[ ] Pink and white basketball
[ ] Special shorts and tops for the Cheer Squad
[ ] Pink ribbons for the girls on the female sports teams or cheer squad.

Other things that need to be taken care of:

[ ] School’s permission
[ ] Coaching staff and players buy-in on the idea
[ ] Athletic Association permission to wear pink uniforms
[ ] Contact the media…all of them! Radio, TV, newspaper, the school’s website, blogs, etc.
[ ] Get your promotional items designed and ordered
[ ] Line up sponsors
[ ] Decide on a charity
[ ] There will be plenty of other things that pop up. Be sure to get volunteers to assist you. They’ll be happy to help!

If you need help with your promotional items, t-shirt design, or have any other questions, you can call our office at 616-247-3797 or 1-800-266-8534 and ask for either Ingrid, Kyra, (Kee-rah), or Kelly.

Thank you for sharing this post with others, and your effort to fight cancer!