WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ January 31, 2007 â€“ Regular and affordable physical activity must be a national priority. That message will be delivered to the U.S. Congress in early March by physical educators, concerned members of the sports and fitness industry, and a number of high-profile athletes (current and retired). The setting for this event is National Health-through-Fitness Day â€“ Wednesday, March 7th in Washington, D.C. National Health-through-Fitness Day, held in conjunction with National PE4life Day, is organized by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA). Every year since 2000, SGMA has organized a lobby day for the sporting goods industry on Capitol Hill to help drive physical activity legislation.
On National Health-through-Fitness Day, a delegation of well known athletes, sporting goods manufacturers, sports retailers, concerned citizens, physical educators and association leaders will visit Capitol Hill to lobby Congress for continued funding of quality P.E. classes in our nation's schools and PE programs in local community based organizations. Some of the more prominent supporters in this delegation will include NFL Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow (San Diego Chargers); current NFL quarterback Chad Pennington (New York Jets); former Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis champ Stan Smith; NFL wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El (Washington Redskins); and ex-major league second baseman Ted Sizemore (Dodgers/Cardinals/Phillies/Cubs/Red Sox).
The advocates will walk the halls of Congress campaigning for two physical activity initiatives â€“ (1) the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Bill, which provides grants to local school districts to purchase equipment and train teachers in innovative physical education methods and (2) the PHIT (Physical Health Investment Today) Bill, which will encourage improved health through increased physical activity for all Americans by making it more affordable to play sports and engage in physical fitness and recreation activities -- through the use of pre-tax dollars.
For PEP, this consortium is asking Congress to provide $100 million in PEP funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008. The group plans meetings with nearly 100 U.S. Senators and Representatives that day. In FY 2001, the PEP Bill was approved for $5 million. 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; and $73 million in FY 2007.
The PHIT Bill 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. Americans could invest up to $1,000 annually to pay for physical activities by investing money in existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements. PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses. It would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.
â€œObesity levels among children and adults in the U.S. are growing at an alarming rate,â€ said Tom Cove, president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, which is helping to spearhead the lobbying effort. â€œPEP provides American children with the opportunity to learn about the importance of physical fitness on a regular basis. Our children need and deserve more physical education in our schools. PHIT encourages healthy, active lifestyles by making physical activity more affordable for individuals and families. America needs to start focusing more time and resources on preventing illness as opposed to treating people once they are already sick. America needs to encourage active lifestyles as a way to help reverse the obesity trend and the costly illnesses associated with it.â€
If you are interested in being a part of this lobbying effort, please register to attend by accessing www.getinvolved.sgma.com or contacting SGMA's Bill Sells (202-349-9417 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
SGMA, the trade association of leading industry sports and fitness brands, enhances industry vitality and fosters sports and fitness participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion and public policy. SGMA produces signature industry events including the Spring Market trade show, Sports+Technology Convergence, Industry Leaders Summit and National Health-through-Fitness Day on Capitol Hill. More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's Sports Research Partnership can be found at www.sgma.com.