High school football penalty flags go blue this week in five states to mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

SEATTLE—Sept. 14, 2010—Those familiar yellow football penalty flags that are thrown by referees will be replaced with special light blue ones this week during dozens of high school football games in five states. It’s not that a kinder and gentler reminder of a rules violation has taken over, at least not permanently. Rather, this is the third year of Coaches Against Cancer, a program to raise awareness of prostate cancer. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Blue is prostate cancer’s marketing color like the color pink is for breast cancer.

For 2010, Coaches Against Cancer expands from just one state – Washington – to include high school varsity and junior varsity teams in all or parts of Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon and Rhode Island. The campaign is sponsored by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the officials associations in the five states.

“Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is proud to partner with the state official associations to build awareness of prostate cancer through Coaches Against Cancer. We want to encourage all men to talk with their doctors about appropriate prostate screening,” said Kit Herrod, director of external relations.

“We are pleased to be a part of this project simply because our organization has been affected by cancer, and we would love nothing more than to raise awareness toward the fight against such a devastating disease,” said Donny Sanchez, president of the Albuquerque Football Officials Association.
Nine high schools in two southern Oregon counties – Klamath and Lake – are new to the blue flag campaign. Tim Murphy, a football referee for 30 years and secretary-treasurer of the Klamath Falls Football Officials Association, is a prostate cancer survivor and will be among those carrying the special flags at this week’s games. “As a survivor whose family has been impacted by prostate cancer more than once, I believe strongly in the importance of men being aware of prostate cancer and their options for screening,” he said.
Rhode Island high school football coaches at the state’s 40 high schools will show their affinity for the campaign by wearing blue wrist bands, according to officials there.

In Hawaii, referees in about two dozen games will participate in the program.
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2010 about 217, 730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 32,050 men will die of the disease. About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Men over age 40 should talk to their doctors about prostate cancer screening and lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of getting the disease.

In 2010, Coaches Against Cancer received a “Communitas Award” from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.

Note to media only:
Following are high school football officiating contacts for news media in each of the participating states. A downloadable JPEG image of the blue penalty flag can be accessed here:

Media contact:
Dean Forbes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 667-2896


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.