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SGMA, NFHS, & NCAA Official Host Rules Discussion In Indy

Date: 4/25/12

SILVER SPRING, MD – April 25, 2012 – Today in Indianapolis, more than 70 sporting goods industry executives from 40 sporting goods companies and organizations met with the leadership of SGMA, NCAA, and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to discuss rules changes for college and high school sports.  This was the sixth such meeting in as many years involving SGMA, its membership, and the leadership of the NCAA and NFHS.

“When changes to rules are considered for any sport, it usually impacts the equipment, footwear, and uniforms used by the participants in that particular sport,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “At this meeting, SGMA member companies are given an opportunity to ask questions about any potential rule change and it’s the right time to inform the governing bodies how long it will take to design, test, manufacture, and distribute the new items that must be produced to a new standard or code.  By consulting with the companies that manufacture these items, we can avoid potential problems by ensuring that a rules change is not implemented before the necessary adjustment can be made at the manufacturing level.”

“This meeting grows in importance every year,” said NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner.  “This annual meeting allows all parties to interact face-to-face and to build trust with another. The dialog is beneficial to all parties involved.  We are pleased with our strong relationship with SGMA and the growing response we are getting from its membership each year at this meeting.”

The sports where rules changes were discussed included baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, spirit, swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling. Those in attendance were given a list of all NFHS equipment, facilities, uniform and rules changes which took effect this school year (2011/2012) and which will go into effect in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 school years.  The NCAA and the NFHS provided attendees with a list of all the Playing Rules Committees (NCAA) and Sport Rules Committees, the staff contacts, and meeting dates.

Companies/organizations represented at this meeting included adidas, American Sports Builders Association, Anderson Bat Company, Augusta Sportswear, Baden Sports, BSN Sports, Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Champro Sport, Cutters/Nokona, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cascade Sports, Diamond Sports, Easton-Bell Sports, Evoshield, Gared, Gill Athletic, Halo Sports & Safety, Jarden Team Sports/Rawlings Sporting Goods, Hillerich & Bradsby/Louisville Slugger, Holloway Sportswear,  Mattingly Baseball, Marucci Sports, McDavid Sports Medical, Mizuno USA, Sports, NBS, Nike, NSGA, NOCSAE, Porter Athletic, Riddell, Russell Athletic, Schutt Sports, Shock Doctor, Sports Inc., STX, SGMA, TAG, Under Armour, U.S. Lacrosse, Warrior Lacrosse/Brine Lacrosse, and Wilson Sporting Goods.

“By attending this meeting each year, I get the opportunity to speak person-to-person with my main contacts at the National Federation and the NCAA,” said Tim Lord, vice president of bats, Jarden Team Sports.  “That one-on-one time is extremely beneficial to me and my company.”

“I am new to this meeting so I attended to establish connections within the industry,” said Tim Connelly, a development engineer, Under Armour.  “I came with questions and concerns and they were addressed.”

Besides the NFHS’s Gardner and SGMA’s Cove, the group also heard presentations from Ty Halpin (associate director of playing rules administration -- NCAA), Mike Oliver (executive director -- NOCSAE), Dr. Tom Dompier (president – Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research & Prevention), and Dr. Dawn Comstock (associate professor of pediatrics – Ohio State University’s Center for Injury Research & Policy/Nationwide Children’s Hospital).

According to Gardner, there has been a “steady increase in participation” in high school sports for a number of years, but he said the NFHS is aware that a number of schools have had to make cuts because of tough times in the economy.  As a result of economic slowdowns, the importance of contributions from booster clubs and corporate support to keep high school sports afloat has never been more important.  The NFHS focuses on three issues when considering any kind of rule change for any sport: (1) Is it in the best interests of the sport? (2) Does it give an unfair advantage to either the offense or defense? (3) Does it impact the sound traditions of the game? 

Cove gave the audience a glimpse of SGMA’s soon-to-be-released State of the Industry address.  Cove stated that the sporting goods industry grew by 3.1% in 2011.  In the area of sports participation, Cove noted that the sports/activities with the highest percentage growth in participation in 2011 were stationary cycling (group classes), gymnastics, stand-up paddling, elliptical motion trainers, and high impact aerobics.  Cove also made the following observations:

  • Team sports participation has matured, at least for the time being;
  • The peak ages for team sports participation are children in middle school;
  • Basketball is the most popular team sport for children;
  • Avid sports and fitness enthusiasts are driving business in the sports industry

Halpin said that “safety” remains the number one theme for any action taken by any of the NCAA’s playing rules committees.  When rules changes are considered at the collegiate level, the NCAA emphasizes student-athlete safety, preserving the traditions of a sport, and the enforcement of potential new rules. 

Oliver addressed the concussion issue and the topic of fielders’ helmets for baseball players.  Oliver defended the current standard for all helmets because it is a “very effective standard for protecting the head from skull fractures.”  As for baseball fielders’ helmets, Oliver said the new standard will take effect in January of 2013, though no governing bodies in baseball or softball are requiring its athletes to wear the helmets.

The presentation by Comstock focused on the NFHS Injury Surveillance System which she is spearheading from her office at Ohio State University.  In her study, the goal is to collect data to monitor high school injury trends and patterns of injuries over time.  Her goal with this annual study is to “provide data to help drive evidence-based discussions” by the various rules committees of the NFHS.  Comstock has been analyzing high school injuries since 2005.  From 2005-2011, there were 2.31 injuries to high school athletes per 1,000 athlete exposures.  She stated that in most sports, more injuries occur in competition than in practice despite the fact that there are more athlete exposures in practices than in games.  High school football has the most injuries.  The most common injuries are (1) ankle sprains/strains and (2) concussions.  She said that 45% of all injuries in high school sports result in the athlete missing less than a week’s worth of games and practices.

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 State of the Industry Address (2011) and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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