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Top Sports Industry Brands + Decorated Athletes Headline SFIA's National Health Through Fitness Day

Date: 2/24/15

Football Great Herschel Walker & Five Olympic Gold Medalists Lead the Way
Capitol Hill Effort on March 4th To Promote Policies That Will Encourage Healthy, Active Lifestyles

SILVER SPRING, MD – February 24, 2015 – Five Olympic gold medalists, two Super Bowl champions, one Heisman Trophy winner, one Olympic silver medalist, more than 100 leaders from organizations in the sports and fitness industries, and  athletes from MLB, NHL, NBA, USA Swimming, Easton, Puma, ASICS, Evoshield, Polar, Franklin, Speedo and Under Armour will join together on March 4th to meet with the U.S. Congress and request support for federal legislation to help this country win its own ‘Battle of the Bulge’ and reverse the current ‘Inactivity Pandemic.’  The event is the 16th Annual National Health Through Fitness Day in Washington, D.C. – organized by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association in partnership with the American College of Sports Medicine and sponsored by PHIT America.

On National Health Through Fitness Day, a delegation of celebrity 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 three legislative initiatives to help all Americans become more physically fit:

(1)  PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act, which will encourage improved health through increased physical activity for all Americans by making it more affordable to participate in sports and engage in physical fitness and recreation activities – through the use of tax incentives.   

(2)  Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), which provides grants to school districts and community based organizations to support innovative physical education and activity methods;   

(3) The Physical Activity Recommendations (PAR), promotes awareness of the types & amounts of physical activity that Americans, of all ages and physical aptitudes, should perform to gain important health benefits.

In a nutshell, National Health Through Fitness Day is SFIA’s signature Capitol Hill event to promote policies to improve health by encouraging active lifestyles though increased participation in sports, fitness and recreational physical activities. 

To date, the celebrity delegation includes Herschel Walker (1982 Heisman Trophy winner/NFL All-Pro /undefeated MMA fighter/past U.S. Winter Olympian); Matt Stover (Baltimore Ravens, two-time Super Bowl-winning placekicker); Tommy John (retired Major League Baseball pitcher); Tommie Smith (1968 Olympic gold medal winner sprinter – 200m); Rowdy Gaines (1984 Olympic gold medal swimmer & NBC swim commentator); Shannon Miller (1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medal winning gymnast); Cullen Jones (2008 and 2012 Olympic swimming gold medalist); Esther Lofgren  (2012 Olympic gold medal winning rower); Jason Collins (retired NBA star); April Ross (2012 Olympic silver-medal winning beach volleyball player); Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland Browns running backs); Skip Bertman (LSU Hall of Fame and five-time College World Series winning baseball coach); Sharon Day (#1 ranked U.S. heptathlete); Ken Harvey (four-time NFL All-Pro Washington Redskins linebacker); John Booty (retired NFL defensive back -- Eagles, Giants, Cardinals, & Buccaneers); Alan May (former Washington Capitals hockey player and current analyst); Kelly Ward (national champion wrestler/former wrestling coach at Iowa St. & Nebraska); and Darrell Miller (retired California Angels outfielder).

These champions of sport will have a message that there’s an overwhelming need for daily P.E. for all school children and for all Americans to embrace healthy, active lifestyles. 

“In the budget-conscious environment on Capitol Hill, our goal is to save physical education in schools with PEP and encourage active lifestyles through the PHIT Bill,” says Bill Sells, SFIA’s vice president of government relations. 

“When we have these face-to-face Congressional meetings, it’s essential that our industry leaders communicate the magnitude of the adverse impact of sedentary living and fully emphasize the positive economic outcomes of healthier, more active lifestyles,” says SFIA President Tom Cove.

“This event is a key event on the calendar for our industry,” says SFIA Chairman Bob Puccini (President; Mizuno USA; Roswell, GA).  “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 the future health of this country.”

“Getting PEP funded and passing the PHIT Act are major priorities this year,” says PHIT America Founder Jim Baugh.   “Simply put, inactivity in America is having an adverse effect on health care costs in the U.S.   Promoting the PHIT Act to support grassroots sports, fitness and recreational activities will help get Americans healthier.”

"The Physical Activity Recommendations (PAR) set a benchmark for daily physical activity," said Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., FACSM, president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy and reducing risk for chronic disease."

The PHIT Act would change current federal tax law to include physical activity as a medical expense as a form of prevention.  This change would give consumers the option of using funds in pre-tax medical accounts to pay for  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), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), and other medical reimbursement arrangements.  The PHIT Act will only expand the eligible expenses.  It would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.

For the PEP Bill, this consortium will ask Congress to continue funding the program in FY 2016.  PEP is the only Federal funding dedicated to physical education. SFIA will schedule meetings with more than 100 U.S. Senators and Representatives on March 4.  To date, nearly $1 billion in PEP grants have been distributed across the country by the U.S. Department of Education. 

While waiting for Congress to get behind the PEP Program and the PHIT Act, there’s an easy-to-use tool for the general public to use so they can ‘voice’ their support for PEP and the PHIT Act. Click here to send an electronic letter directly to your local members of Congress to encourage them to support PEP and the PHIT Act. Americans who advocate on PHITAmerica.org will help support what takes place on National Health Through Fitness Day.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 3rd, SFIA will host the National Health Through Fitness Day Reception in the U.S Capitol Visitors Center (H201 A/B). At the event, SFIA will recognize one individual for his support of physical activity policies in America.  Retired Major League Baseball pitching great Tommy John will be presented with SFIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.”

To keep up to date on what's happening with SFIA and SFIA's National Health Through Fitness Day, follow us on Twitter @phitamerica.  We’ll be using the hash tag #phitamerica for anything NHTF Day related.  You are also encouraged and invited to be a 'fan' of National Health Through Fitness Day on our Facebook page to let your friends know that you support a physically active lifestyle. 

On Wednesday, March 4th, athletes and other participants will meet with Congress to request support for PHIT, PEP & PAR and there will be a physical education demonstration in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  It will feature students and teachers from public schools in the greater District of Columbia area.  It will be coordinated by Sportime and SPARK.  The PEP Demo will demonstrate the innovative, quality PE provided via PEP. 

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services.

PHIT America -- an educational, grassroots, advocacy and social media marketing campaign -- is designed to reach millions of Americans and create a Movement for a Fit and Healthy America. PHIT America will combat the obesity and sedentary activity crisis -- which is having an adverse effect on health care costs in the U.S. -- by promoting new legislation and grassroots programs that will help get Americans more active, playing more sports, exercising, getting fit and becoming healthier.

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