SBD/October 18, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Univ. Of Oregon To Wear, Auction Off Pink Nike Helmets For Cancer Awareness

Oregon will wear pink helmets for the first time in university history
Nike on Thursday morning announced that the Univ. of Oregon football team "will wear pink cleats, socks, gloves and helmets for its home game against Washington State on Saturday," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Nike and UO have "partnered in the past to wear pink to support October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but this is the first time the school, known for its variety of uniform combinations, will wear pink helmets." The helmets will help to "raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a charity that has raised" $2.6M for scientific research and programs associated with women's cancers. Nike said that 25 helmets "will be auctioned over the course of the week beginning Saturday" (ESPN.com, 10/18). In Oregon, Mark Johnson notes the gesture "goes deeper than the Ducks merely switching from one Hi-Liter color to another." It is intended to "create awareness and to honor cancer survivors" (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 10/18).

STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE? ESPN.com's Paul Lukas wrote thanks to the growing number of helmet designs, many programs "have at least three different helmet colors they can customize with various decals and face mask colors to create a near-endless array of designs." However, the NFL citing safety concerns has "enacted a new rule designed to minimize the number of players switching helmets during the season." So the NFL is "limiting helmet options, while NCAA helmet designs are mushrooming." Lukas: "Is the NFL's new rule misguided? Is the NCAA compromising on safety?" Univ. of Arizona Dir of Equipment Operations Wendell Neal said, "I do have concerns about all these helmets -- when does it stop? To me, we're going 100 miles an hour with this thing, and a rule like the NFL came up with, I see that as slowing it down." Univ. of North Carolina Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Freeman said, "I think the NFL is doing what it thinks is in the best interests of its players. But until I see something that tells me otherwise, I feel comfortable with what we're doing." Indiana Univ. Dir of Football Equipment Mitch Gudmundson: "When we heard about that rule, we sat down and talked about it with our medical staff, our doctors and our administration, just to review our policy. And we determined that we don't feel wearing multiple helmets is problematic" (ESPN.com, 10/17).
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