2019 SFIA Year-End Review


Dear Industry Colleague,

Thank you for your membership and investment in the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. In 2019, the industry was faced with several unexpected challenges, including a damaging tariff war with China and complex product standards and compliance issues. SFIA made these top priorities. We remain prepared to deal with both the unpredictable and commonplace obstacles, as we continue to unite the industry to be resilient amid disruptive forces. We also worked to help our members to connect with today's consumer and adapt to a technology-based environment. SFIA strengthened our mission, "To promote sports participation and industry vitality," through engaging with Aspen Institute's Project Play campaign to increase youth sports participation and garnering congressional support for the PHIT Act. Throughout the year's endeavors, SFIA tackled each issue with the goal of generating tangible value for our member companies to help you operate profitably and sustainably.

This year, SFIA's advocacy team organized and led efforts to reduce members' tariff exposure by fighting the government's tariffs on Chinese-made products, as well as through tariff relief opportunities provided by the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. In total, over 100 petitions were filed on behalf of members; and SFIA testified before the U.S. Trade Representative on the industry's behalf.

After more than a decade of hard work, SFIA continues to lead the legislative effort to pass the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. After passing the House in 2018, and then being reintroduced in the new Congress in 2019, the bill already has 100 cosponsors - record bipartisan support in this amount of time. We thank everyone who has given time and resources for this campaign, and we look forward to seeing you on Capitol Hill next March for National Health Through Fitness Day! 2020 is our year to pass PHIT.

SFIA research continues to be one of the most highly-regarded member benefits. Annual State of the Industry analytics, Category Sales breakdowns and the nation's leading sports participation studies continue to serve as an invaluable resource to members, as the data is used to inform and guide strategy and decision-making. Furthermore, SFIA research continues to influence and drive the national narrative around promotion of sports & fitness participation. This year, there were more than 500 stories citing SFIA data. Media outlets relying on SFIA for data and insight included the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Forbes, TIME, Sports Illustrated, Bloomberg and ESPN. We continue to raise the profile and influence of our industry by enlightening and educating the public about its pivotal role in the future of our country.

SFIA continues to protect the industry's interests by engaging with more than a dozen governing bodies, standards organizations and testing labs to ensure manufacturers are protected and have a voice in the compliance process. This past year, SFIA worked to prevent or moderate changes to standards requirements that saved the industry over one million dollars.

We've included a brief description of the many programs SFIA took on this year to support your investment in the trade association. I trust that you'll find our commitment to your company and the industry is productive and efficient. I strongly encourage you to utilize our services and expertise. SFIA would like to assist you and your business in any way we can; please do not hesitate to call on us.


Tom Cove | President and CEO

Industry & Public Affairs

The authoritative voice on Capitol Hill for the sports & fitness industry

  • SFIA-led efforts resulted 100 PHIT Act cosponsors with strong bipartisan support, more than ever before in this time frame.
  • Longtime PHIT advocate, Herschel Walker, addressed the GOP conference to promote the passage of the PHIT Act.
  • Organized and filed 72 petitions with the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on behalf of members requesting product exemptions from China tariffs. (47 petitions for "List 4" exemptions & 25 for "List 3" exclusions).
  • Bill Sells, SFIA SVP of Government Affairs, testified on behalf of the industry before the USTR to oppose the tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
  • The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process is currently up for renewal & SFIA is assisting members in obtaining an estimated $50 million in MTB relief.
  • Brought 11 celebrity athletes and 200+ industry leaders to Washington, D.C. for the 20th annual National Health Through Fitness Day to promote the PHIT Act and other active lifestyle policies. Click here to see the full recap.
  • Organized equipment donations from SFIA members for Congressional Sports: Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Golf and Football.
  • SFIA serves on Boards of Congressional Football and Baseball Games and is a recognized leader on congressional sports.
  • SFIA supported legislation to ensure proper diagnosis, treatment and return-to-play protocols for student athletes.

Thought Leadership

Delivering exceptional education and strengthening industry community

  • Hosted the 2nd annual Business & Risk Management Summit, which combined SFIA's Litigation Summit with the Equipment Rules Meeting, co-hosted with NFHS and NCAA. This Summit provided legal and compliance education, as well as updates on technology, rules and standards. Full recap here.
  • Hosted the 7th annual Industry Leaders Summit under the theme, Innovate | Activate | Accelerate. The event featured speakers from Topgolf, lululemon, Intel, and Zumba, as well as numerous major sports brands, retailers and The NPD Group, discussing topics such as China tariffs, industry trends, retail environment, consumer behavior & digitization. See recap here.
  • SFIA highlighted innovation within the industry for a 4th straight year through its Start-Up Challenge and introduced a Media Prize Package from Empirika Media worth $25,000. Finalists included Perch, TAU, Emblem Athletic, SlingerBag, and this year's champion, Miro AI.
  • Curated 10 sell-out webinars for 2019, covering a wide range of pertinent industry topics, including wearable technology, tariffs, consumer shopping patterns, and many more, all designed to assist members with current trends, challenges & legal issues.
  • SFIA's Future Industry Leaders Scholars Program identified & highlighted 6 up-and-comers in the industry at this year's Industry Leaders Summit. Scholars were from brands that included Brooks Running, BSN Sports, Rapsodo, Riddell, STX, & VICIS.


Providing information and insight to drive industry decision making

  • SFIA research and programs have been included in more than one article a day (520 articles and 321 publications to date) by major news outlets, including Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TIME, Bloomberg, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Forbes and many more.
  • Partnered with The Aspen Institute's Project Play initiative, "#DontRetireKid," to bring attention to the shocking number of children dropping out of sports due to the intense nature and high pressures that are making youth sports not as fun as they used to be. The program's purpose was inspired and strengthened by SFIA participation and coaching data.
  • Released several major research reports available to SFIA members at no cost.
  • Published 90 single sport reports, which help members analyze sports participation. Single Sport Reports break down the data by participation levels, gender, age group, income level, geographic region, education and cross-sport participation.
  • Provided data and report insights to member companies to assist R&D.

Member Services

Providing a robust menu of member resources, including dedicated sports councils to address specific challenges

  • Hosted council meetings for Baseball/Softball, Football, Soccer, Lacrosse & Golf. Manufacturers, governing bodies and industry coalitions discussed the current landscape of the sport, product standards and how all parties involved can work together to grow the sport.
  • Added industry leaders in insurance and licensing, Goldenstar Specialty Insurance and Opsec Security Solutions, as Corporate Partners, providing members with best-in-class resources to protect their brand.
  • In 2019, SFIA welcomed 40 new member companies to its community.
  • Presented customized State of the Industry presentations at more than 20 member companies' sales and strategy meetings.
  • Industry crisis management; addressed industry media and government policies on the decline in sports participation trends, increased regulation on product safety and allegations of deceptive marketing/advertising.
  • Continued partnership with Good Sports to provide an excess inventory solution for our members, while providing support to kids in under-served communities and giving them the opportunity to be equipped for sports and physical activity. Since 2012, by working with Good Sports, SFIA members have provided over $45 million worth of equipment which has directly led to positively impacting 7 million children.

Standards & Compliance

SFIA works cooperatively with certification and testing bodies like ASTM, NOCSAE and all sport governing bodies to create equitable and effective standards for sports equipment

  • Aggressively represented the industry's interests when standards writing organizations attempted to promulgate reactionary standards in response to public scrutiny.
  • SFIA continues to work with ASTM managing the relationship between governing bodies that require ASTM standards to insure equitable implementation of those required standards.
  • Continued to run the successful SFIA Football Glove standard certification/licensing program with 22 companies. The program certifies gloves for Pop Warner, NFHS and NCAA.
  • SFIA has worked with NOCSAE to propose a restructuring of the NOCSAE grant process. SFIA is working to make the grant process support specific standards goals, the creation of an education and public media program & the development of a more robust capability to protect the NOCSAE mark from counterfeit use.
  • SFIA is in the process of creating an ASTM Task Group to develop a standard for defensive facemask for women's softball.
  • In 2019, SFIA's work in preventing or moderating changes to standards requirements, quality control measures and implementation dates has saved the industry more than one million dollars in additional costs.
  • SFIA maintains relationships with numerous governing bodies and standards setting organizations including US Lacrosse, NFHS, the NCAA, USA Baseball, Little League, AFCA, ABCA, USSA, ASA, ASTM, CPSC and NOCSAE.
  • Continued to be a voting member and represent industry interests with ASTM.
  • Gregg Hartley (SFIA representative) is one of two NOCSAE Vice Presidents and continues to represent the industry on the NOCSAE board of directors.

Corporate Partners

SFIA would like to thank its Corporate Partners for their support in 2019.

Corporate partners support the quality research, thought leadership training and networking that SFIA provides for members. Learn more about each partner and how they can deliver value to your company.

Goldenstar Specialty Insurance
Robert W. Baird

SFIA Sport-Specific Council Meetings

Baseball & Softball Council Meeting
January 3, 2020
Nashville, TN
SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Lacrosse Council Meeting
January 11, 2020
Philadelphia, PA
SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Football Council Meeting
January 13, 2020
Nashville, TN
SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Soccer Council (SICA) Meeting
January 16, 2020
Baltimore, MD
SFIA Contact: Alex Kerman

USGMC, Golf Council Meeting
January 21, 2020
Orlando, FL
SFIA Contact: Bill Sells


SFIA National Health Through Fitness Day
March 10-11, 2020
Washington, D.C.
SFIA's 21st annual National Health Through Fitness Day, spent promoting active lifestyle & physical activity legislation on Capitol Hill. 

Register Here

SFIA, NFHS, NCAA Team Sports Rules & Management Conference
April 13-14, 2020
Indianapolis, IN
The SFIA, NCAA and NFHS host the annual Team Sports Rules & Management Conference to discuss changes in team sports rules, standards and regulations.

Register Here

SFIA Industry Leaders Summit
September 23-24, 2020
Chicago, IL
Join the top leaders, experts, start-ups and trailblazers in the sports & fitness industry for unparalleled networking opportunities, eye-opening presentations & discussions addressing the industry's top trends and challenges, and the 5th annual SFIA Start-Up Challenge.

Register Here