SGMA LEADS SPORTS INDUSTRY DELEGATION TO CAPITOL HILL
Athletes, Sports Industry Executives, P.E. Teachers, and Physical Activity Advocates Asked U.S. Congress To Support Physical Activity Initiatives
SGMA Membership Conducted Nearly 130 Congressional Meetings on the Issue of PEP and PHIT Bills on National Health Through Fitness Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 10, 2010 – The facts about physical inactivity levels in the United States are startling and eye-opening:
1.) recess is not a regular part of the schedule in many schools,
2.) obesity costs our health care system as much as $147 billion a year,
3.) less than 10% of U.S. schools have daily physical education classes for their students,
4.) 46% of high school students receive no physical education, and
5.) the fastest-growing cause of illness and death in America today is obesity.
To reverse that negative trend, a delegation of physical activity proponents met today with members of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. to talk about what can be done to ‘Get America Moving.’ To make the point, three former Heisman Trophy winners; three Olympic gold medalists; a former National League MVP; an LPGA Hall of Famer; and a host of other current and former star athletes joined the advocacy effort. The setting was the 11th Annual National Health Through Fitness Day, organized by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA).
Over the course of the day, the SGMA-led group had a series of face-to-face discussions with U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators about the importance of federal funding for quality physical education and increasing physical activity for families by making it more accessible and more affordable for all Americans. The group conducted just over 100 meetings with U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators and nearly 30 meetings with key Congressional aides and staff members. Every year since 2000, SGMA has organized this event on Capitol Hill – National Health Through Fitness Day -- to push physical fitness initiatives as a way to improve overall health in America.
The celebrities participating in National Health Through Fitness Day included 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), sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein (ESPN), U.S. Olympic softball gold medalists Michele Smith (Musco Lighting) and Jennie Finch (Mizuno USA), U.S. Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh (Gatorade), LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sörenstam (The Annika Foundation/Callaway Golf), former National League MVP Steve Garvey (Rawlings Sporting Goods), 2010 U.S. Olympic bobsled bronze medalist Elana Meyers, 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), WNBA standout Renee Montgomery (Nike); 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 (SGMA) and John Booty (SGMA).
There were a number of representatives from SGMA member companies and outside organizations which participated in the lobbying process. Those companies included ACCUSPLIT, Active Network, Brain Pad, Callaway Golf, Century Martial Arts, Continental Sports Supply/Reusch USA, Cramer Products, Easton-Bell Sports, Everlast Worldwide, Franklin Sports, Gatorade, HOPSports Training Systems, Horizon Fitness, Jarden Team Sports, Lifeline International, Mizuno USA, Musco Lighting, National Sporting Goods Association, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Nike, Polar Electro, Pop Warner Football, Prince Sports, Reebok, Rollerblade, Russell Athletic, Spalding, Under Armour, Street Surfing, and the United States Tennis Association.
The advocates walked the halls of Congress generating support for two 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- PHIT can encourage physically active lifestyles by making sports, fitness, and recreational activities more affordable -- through the use of tax incentives.
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 consortium asked Congress to approve additional funding for 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 in FY 2010.
In addition to the lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, a physical education demonstration was held at the Capitol Visitors Center located inside the U.S. Capitol building. This PE demonstration featured a group of students and their teachers from schools in Alexandria County (VA), Fairfax County (VA) and Henrico County (VA). It was coordinated by Megan Wolfe of NASPE. The event was also supported by SGMA.
“The sports and fitness industry has been influential in demonstrating that physical activity is the foundation for a healthy nation,” said Tom Cove, SGMA’s president. “PEP will help give Americans of all ages the opportunity to learn about the importance of physical fitness in their daily lives. PHIT will help encourage physical activity by making it more affordable and available. Adults need regular exercise and the PHIT Act will help them achieve that goal.”
“PEP helps finance a new way to approach physical education classes for children and the PHIT Bill encourages physically active lifestyles by making sports, fitness and recreational activities more affordable,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s vice president of government relations.
“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, who was the honorary chairman of National Health Through Fitness Day.
“With the increasing awareness of the need to do something about the growing rate of obesity in this country, especially among our young people, we need Congress to understand and take action through PEP and PHIT,” said SGMA Chairman Larry Franklin of Franklin Sports. “The benefits to society will be immense.”
“The sports and fitness industry has the right message at the right time to help reduce overall health care costs,” said Ron Sutton of ACCUSPLIT. “The issue of inactivity remains a problem in this country, but PEP is making a difference and the PHIT Act has the potential to make physically active lifestyles more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans.”
“We have to enlighten people on this issue of inactivity. We need change starting right now,” said Jim Darby of Easton-Bell Sports. “The connection between good health, being physically active and being effective in the classroom or the workplace is undeniable.”
“I came to Washington, D.C. because I’m passionate about children and their opportunities to have a long healthy life. It all starts with P.E.,” said softball Olympic gold medalist Michele Smith. “In this country, we made a mistake to let daily P.E. disappear from school curriculums.”
“The PHIT Bill and PEP are truly complementary pieces of legislation,” said Tom Rogge of Cramer Products. “PEP can help keep children active in school from kindergarten through high school, while PHIT can help make physical activity expenses more affordable for adults.”
“Both PEP and PHIT will help improve health levels, reduce absenteeism, and increase proficiency in school for children and productivity in the workplace for adults,” said veteran sporting goods industry leader Jim Baugh.
Anybody who was unable to attend SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness Day can still get involved in this advocacy effort by contacting their local U.S. Representative and their two U.S. Senators to express their interest in seeing both pieces of legislation get passed.
A record total of 40 companies were sponsors of the event.
The United States Tennis Association was the Presenting Sponsor. The Active Network and ACCUSPLIT were the Special Event Sponsors. The Supporting & Celebrity Sponsors were 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, Teen Fitness Network, Tennis Industry Association, Ultimate Fighting Championships, Under Armour, Wilson, and XaviX.
Part of ACCUSPLIT’s support was a gift of a pedometer to every person participating in the National Health Through Fitness Day congressional meetings. Most people walked between 8,000 and 12,000 steps as they moved from one Congressional office to another on Capitol Hill.
General Mills provided complimentary boxes of its new cereal -- Wheaties Fuel -- at SGMA’s lobby-day breakfast briefing.
On the evening of Tuesday, March 9th, SGMA hosted a pre-lobby day reception which was held in the Capitol Visitors Center inside the U.S. Capitol. The Master of Ceremonies for the reception was ESPN sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein, one of the top 15 female sportscasters of all time according to the American Sportscasters Association. At the event, SGMA recognized four individuals for their support of SGMA’s public policy agenda. Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Tim Brown was presented with SGMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.” U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa), U.S. Representative Ron Kind (Wisconsin), and U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (Tennessee) were presented with Congressional Health & Fitness Awards for their “promotion of healthy and active lifestyles in America.”
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), 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.