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SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day Has Celebrity Appeal

Date: 2/16/10

Three Heisman Winners & Three Olympic Gold Medalists Top List of Athletes To Attend

 SILVER SPRING, MD – February 16, 2010 – Since the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s first National Health Through Fitness Day in 2000, well known figures in sports and fitness have attended this event every year to lend a hand to SGMA’s public policy efforts.  Some of the great names that have attended this event in the past include NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, tennis legend Billie Jean King, current NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, former heavyweight boxing champ Larry Holmes, and soccer great Mia Hamm. This year is no different as nearly 20 well known figures from the sports world have confirmed their attendance for SGMA’s 11th Annual National Health Through Fitness Day (March 10; www.getinvolved.sgma.com) in our nation’s capital.  Six of those celebrities have either won a Heisman Trophy or an Olympic gold medal -- 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker (Franklin Sports), 1987 Heisman Trophy winner/retired NFL All-Pro wide receiver Tim Brown (Reebok), 2006 Heisman Trophy winner/current NFL quarterback Troy Smith (Under Armour) and U.S. Olympic softball gold medalists Michele Smith (Musco Lighting) and Jennie Finch (Mizuno USA) plus U.S. Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh (Gatorade).
Walker is also the honorary chairman of National Health Through Fitness Day.  Also scheduled to attend will be LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sörenstam (The Annika Foundation/Callaway Golf), former National League MVP Steve Garvey (Rawlings Sporting Goods), internationally renowned golf instructor David Leadbetter (Callaway Golf), ex-big league pitcher Tom Candiotti (Easton-Bell Sports), nine-time UFC world champion Matt Hughes (Century Martial Arts), world-class tennis teaching professional/coach Nick Bollettieri (Prince Sports), boxer Paul “The Punisher” Williams (Everlast Worldwide), Iron Man triathlete Katya Meyers (The Active Network), and former NFL players Ken Harvey and John Booty.  More celebrity athletes are expected to commit to the event in the coming weeks.

On that day, SGMA will assemble a series of small groups featuring well known athletes, sporting goods and fitness manufacturers, physical educators, and association leaders for a series of face-to-face discussions with U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators about the importance of federal funding to (1) support quality physical education in schools and (2) encourage more physical activity for families by making it more affordable.

The SGMA-led group will ‘walk the halls of Congress’ generating support for two specific physical activity initiatives:

(1)  Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) provides the only federal money to school districts and community based organizations for physical education and innovative physical activity methods.

(2)  Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act encourages physically active lifestyles by making sports, fitness, and recreational activities more affordable, through the use of tax incentives.

“Physical education is as important as other subjects in school and it needs to be given the attention and support it deserves,” said football legend Herschel Walker.  “Even though I am no longer an active professional football player, physical activity remains a major part of my daily life – as it should be for all Americans.”

The consortium will ask Congress to approve the PEP in Fiscal Year 2011.  In Fiscal Year 2001, the PEP Bill was approved for $5 million; $50 million in FY 2002; $60 million in FY 2003; $70 million in FY 2004; $73.4 million in FY 2005; $72.7 million in FY 2006; $73 million in FY 2007; $75.7 million in FY 2008; $78 million in FY 2009; and $79 million in FY 2010.

PEP provides grants to local school districts and community based programs to purchase equipment and train instructors in innovative physical education methods.  Since 2001, PEP has successfully enhanced K-12 physical education programs across the country through more than $600 million in grants used for training in state-of-the-art health and wellness-based physical education methods.  PEP uses new technology such as heart-rate monitors, pedometers, and the acquisition of state-of-the-art fitness equipment and facilities.

The PHIT Bill, whose main sponsor is U.S. Representative Ron Kind (R-WI), has risen from a concept in the fall of 2005 to a viable vehicle for promoting health and disease prevention in America through physically active lifestyles.  The PHIT Act would change current federal tax law to allow for the deduction or use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. Once an individual or family spends 7.5% of their income on qualified medical expenses, they can deduct physical activity expenses directly.  More than 45 million Americans live in families that meet the 7.5% threshold to deduct medical expenses.  PHIT would also allow Americans to invest up to $2,000 annually in existing pre-tax medical accounts to pay for physical activities.  PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses for pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.  PHIT would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.  

“The great news about SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness Day is that the 40 companies which are sponsoring this event totally understand the value of this ‘day on the Hill,’ said SGMA President/CEO Tom Cove. “Some of the companies which are sponsoring this event are doing so by supplying a well-known celebrity to join our lobbying delegation.”

As of right now, a record total of nearly 40 companies have agreed to be sponsors of the event. 

The United States Tennis Association is the Presenting Sponsor.  The Active Network and Accusplit are the Special Event Sponsors.  The Supporting & Celebrity Sponsors are The Annika Foundation, Callaway Golf, Century Martial Arts, Cramer Products, Easton-Bell Sports, Everlast Worldwide, Everlast Climbing Industries, Flaghouse, Franklin Sports, Gatorade, General Mills, GeoFitness, Good Sports, Gopher, Head, HOPSports, Mizuno USA, Musco Lighting, NASPE, NFL Retired Players Association, Nike, National Sporting Goods Association, PlayCore, Polar Electro, Precor, Prince Sports, Rawlings, Reebok, SGMA’s Legal Task Force, Speed Stacks, Sportime, Street Surfing, Tennis Industry Association, Ultimate Fighting Championships, Under Armour, Wilson, and XaviX.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA's Sports Research Partnership, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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