SFIA National Health Through Fitness Day Garners Bipartisan Support
Silver Spring, MD – March 5, 2014 – More than 130 Congressional meetings were held during the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 15th Annual National Health Through Fitness Day on Wednesday, March 5 to lobby for legislation that supports physical activity.
"We could not be prouder of what we were able to achieve as an industry this week on Capitol Hill," said Bill Sells, SFIA Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. "Meeting with Congressional leaders from both parties to discuss physical activity initiatives is proof that there is a solution to the healthcare crisis that both Democrats and Republicans can rally around in PEP and PHIT."
Fifteen celebrity athletes and more than 125 sports and fitness industry leaders joined educators and PHIT America supporters in Washington, D.C. to advocate for physical activity. During meetings with lawmakers, discussions centered around two crucial pieces of legislation to “Get America Moving” – the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) and the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.
A fourteen-year Federal program, PEP funds a competitive grant program which awards school districts and community based organizations resources to provide students with quality, innovative physical education. The PHIT Act would change current federal tax law to allow for the use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities.
“This is such an important day to maintain the support for PEP while increasing support of the PHIT Act,” says Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America, former President of Wilson Sporting Goods and a 2011 inductee into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. “The momentum for this legislation is strong and this is another crucial step in the process toward getting America active.”
The 16 athletes that took to Capitol Hill to lobby for support of physical activity initiatives included Heisman Trophy winner and football legend Herschel Walker (Franklin Sports), softball great Jennie Finch (Mizuno), former Baltimore Ravens NFL Super Bowl champion Matt Stover (Evoshield); two-time WNBA champion Swin Cash (Nike); former MLB pitcher Tommy John; two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Cullen Jones (Speedo); four-time NFL All-Pro Washington Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey (ETS); former NFL defensive back John Booty (SFIA); UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (Everlast); Baltimore Ravens cornerback Ladarius Webb (Under Armour); Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam (Under Armour); 800-meter World Championship bronze medalist Brenda Martinez (New Balance); Olympic silver medalist water polo player Peter Hudnut (USA Water Polo); Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (GoodSports); NFL tight end Visanthe Shiancoe; and MLS DC United soccer star Bobby Boswell (adidas).
Also taking place on March 5th was a Congressional panel which discussed the benefits of hockey participation and included SFIA members the National Hockey League (NHL) and Bauer Sports Performance. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Bauer Sports Performance President and CEO Kevin Davis, and USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean participated in the panel which explored the importance of youth sports participation.