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Leading Industry Brands + Celebrity Athletes Headline SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day

Date: 1/19/11

Football Great Herschel Walker & Tennis Legend Stan Smith Lead the Way
Lobby Effort on March 2nd Must Educate New Congress About Value of PE in Schools 

SILVER SPRING, MD – January 19, 2011 – More than 100 leaders from organizations in the sports and fitness industries – from the NBA to Gatorade to Nike – will join together on March 2 to meet with Congress and request support for policies to “Get America Moving”. The event is SGMA’s 12th annual National Health Through Fitness Day in Washington, D.C.

On National Health Through Fitness Day, a delegation of well known athletes, sporting goods and fitness manufacturers, sports retailers, concerned citizens, physical educators and association leaders will meet with members of Congress to encourage passage of two legislative initiatives to help all Americans become more physically fit:

(1)  The Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Bill funds a competitive grant program to give school districts and community based organizations resources to provide students with quality, innovative physical education;

(2)  The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act
, would promote improved health through increased physical activity by making it more affordable to engage in sports, fitness and recreation activities -- through the use of tax incentives.

The celebrity delegation will include former NFL running back and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, 1972 U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis champion Stan Smith; Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith; LPGA Hall of Fame member Annika Sörenstam; World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player; U.S. Olympic softball gold Medalists Michele Smith and Natasha Watley; Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Art Monk; 2008 Olympic gymnastics silver medalist/World Champion Alicia Sacramone; current WBA super middleweight world champion Andre Ward; former Cy Young Award runner-up John Tudor; 2010 Olympic speedskating bronze medalist Allison Baver; U.S. Olympic middle distance runner Jenny Barringer; and former NFL stars Ken Harvey and John Booty.    

In all, an estimated 20 sports and fitness celebrities will participate in this year’s event.

“In the budget-cutting environment on Capitol Hill, our goal is to save physical education in schools and encourage active lifestyles,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s vice president of government relations.  “With all the new members in Congress, it’s imperative that they understand the adverse impact of sedentary living and appreciate the positive economic outcomes of healthier, more active lifestyles.”

“This event is one of the most important of the year for our industry,” said SGMA Chairman Larry Franklin (President; Franklin Sports; Stoughton, MA).  “It is our opportunity to meet with Congress to explain the immense benefits that funding for PEP and the passage of PHIT will mean to America.”

For the PEP Bill, this consortium will ask Congress to continue funding the program in FY 2012.  PEP is the only Federal funding dedicated to physical education. SGMA will schedule meetings with more than 100 U.S. Senators and Representatives on March 2.  In FY 2001, the PEP Bill was approved for $5 million.  The success of PEP has led to a steady increase in funding.  In FY 2002, Congress allotted $50 million; $60 million in FY 2003; $70 million in FY 2004; $73 million in FY 2005; $73 million in FY 2006; $73 million in FY 2007; $75.7 million in FY 2008; $78 million in FY 2009; $79 million in FY 2010; and $80 million in FY 2011.  To date, more than $600 million in PEP grants have been distributed across the country by the U.S. Department of Education. 

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. Americans could invest up to $2,000 annually to reimburse physical activity costs using PHIT-designated contributions to existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and other medical reimbursement arrangements.  PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses.  It would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.  Once an individual or family reaches the 7.5% threshold on income spent for qualified medical expenses, they could deduct physical activity expenses directly.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 1st, SGMA will host the National Health Through Fitness Day Award Reception in the U.S Capitol Visitors Center (SVC 210/212). The Master of Ceremonies for the reception will be sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein, one of the top female sportscasters of all time according to the American Sportscasters Association.  At the event, SGMA will recognize four individuals for their support of physical activity policies in America.  Former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Stan Smith will be presented with SGMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.”  SGMA also plans to recognize Members of Congress with its Congressional Health & Fitness Award for their “promotion of healthy and active lifestyles in America.” 

In addition to the congressional meetings, there will be a physical education demonstration on March 2nd, which will be held in a House Office Building.  It will feature students and teachers from District of Columbia public schools.  It will be coordinated by Cindy Sisson Hensley of HOPSports.  The PEP Demo will demonstrate the innovative, quality PE provided via PEP.  It will also showcase the involvement of the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, Benny the Bull.

There are more than 40 companies and organizations which are sponsors of National Health Through Fitness Day.  PepsiCo is the presenting sponsor.  The United States Tennis Association and The Active Network are special event sponsors.  Supporting sponsors include Accusplit, Active Network, Century Martial Arts, Cramer Products, Easton, Entertainment Software Association, Everlast, Flaghouse, Franklin Sports, Gatorade, General Mills, GeoFitness, Head Penn, HOPSports, Human Kinetics, Good Sports, Gopher Sport, Mizuno, Motion Fitness, Musco Sports Lighting, NFL Players, National Sporting Goods Association, New Balance, Nike, PE4life, Play Core/Everlast Climbing, Polar, Pop Warner Football, Precor, Prince, Rawlings Sporting Goods, Reebok, Rollerblade, Speed Stacks, Sportime, SGMA’s Legal Task Force, Street Surfing, Suunto, Tennis Industry Association, Under Armour, Wilson Sporting Goods, Women’s Sports Foundation, and XaviX.

The entire sports and fitness industry is invited to attend. Rooms -- a limited number -- are available at the host hotel, The Madison (1177 15th Street, NW; Washington, D.C. 20005; 800.424.8577).

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 promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership and product promotion.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA public policy platform, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com. 

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