Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

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Industry Leaders Gathered On Capitol Hill To Save PEP Legislation

Date: 2/28/11

Sports Legends Herschel Walker, Stan Smith, Gary Player, & Ozzie Smith Led the Way
Lobby Effort Worked to Educate New Congress About Value of PE in Schools
Just Over 120 Meetings Were Held in Congressional Offices 

SILVER SPRING, MD – March 2, 2011 – More than 100 leaders from organizations in the sports and fitness industries joined together today to meet with Congress and request support for policies to “Get America Moving”. The event was 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, physical educators and association leaders met 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 included 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; 2011 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; PGA Tour professional Brad Faxon; former Cy Young Award runner-up John Tudor; sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein; 2010 Olympic speedskating bronze medalist Allison Baver; 7-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt; New Orleans Saints place kicker Garrett Hartley; U.S. Olympic middle distance runner Jenny Simpson; and former NFL stars Jay Fiedler, Ken Harvey, James Thrash and John Booty.  

“In the budget-cutting environment on Capitol Hill, our goal today was 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 was necessary that they understood 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 was 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 asked Congress to continue funding the program in FY 2012.  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 hosted the National Health Through Fitness Day Award Reception in the U.S Capitol Visitors Center. At the event, SGMA recognized four individuals for their support of physical activity policies in America.  Former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Stan Smith was presented with SGMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.”  SGMA also recognized Senator Mark Warner (VA), Representative Joseph Crowley (NY), and Representative Mary Bono-Mack with its Congressional Health & Fitness Awards for their “promotion of healthy and active lifestyles in America.” 

In addition to the congressional meetings, there was a physical education demonstration, which was held inside the U.S. Capitol.  It featured students and teachers from District of Columbia public schools.  It was coordinated by Cindy Sisson Hensley of HOPSports.  The PEP Demo demonstrated the innovative, quality PE provided via PEP.  It showcased the involvement of the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, Benny the Bull.

There are more than 40 companies and organizations were sponsors of National Health Through Fitness Day.  PepsiCo was the presenting sponsor.  The United States Tennis Association, The Active Network, and SGMA’s Legal Task Force were 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 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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