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Dear Industry Colleague,

As we move towards the end of a year unlike any other, I hope you, your family and your colleagues are safe and well.
I write to thank you for your membership and investment in the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. We recognize that the disruptions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic hit the very heart of our country, our industry and very likely your company, as they did to SFIA. At the same time, we are reinforced by the innovative spirit that pulses throughout the sports and fitness products business.  

In 2020, the SFIA committed to reflect that same positive approach by:

  • Providing direct assistance in navigating the government’s COVID relief efforts
  • Presenting multiple, free webinars on quickly evolving Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Programs (PPP)
  • Offering personalized guidance to specific concerns
  • Developing a detailed COVID Resource Guide to consolidate reliable resources and regulations

Throughout the year we leveraged SFIA’s longtime expertise in public affairs and research to focus on solutions targeted to our industry. The SFIA actively:

  • Lobbied several COVID relief bills, including those designed to directly help the footwear, apparel and consumer goods sectors
  • Joined with hundreds of our partners to highlight the needs of youth sports organizations in delivering quality sport experiences to children across the country
  • Called for the opening of fitness facilities
  • Continued to push for passage of the PHIT Act, making sport and fitness more affordable
  • Created 3 COVID-specific reports, providing real time data from industry executives and economic analysts
  • Expanded our partnership with The NPD Group to include COVID assessments in SFIA’s weekly newsletter, COVID-19 Resource Guide and webinars

However, 2020 was about more than just COVID relief. It was also about recovery and re-invention, and ultimately resurgence for many sectors of our industry:

  • SFIA Research published 5 major business intelligence reports and 89 single sport reports
  • Our international trade efforts saved our members more than $48 million in tariff relief
  • SFIA hosted more than 10 industry council meetings to allow our members to collectively address unique challenges to their sport and business segment
  • We continued to lead and represent more than 50 member companies engaged in a variety of product standards and compliance organizations.  

Of special note, SFIA hosted our first-ever virtual industry conference, “Back on Track: Insights and Strategies.” The September event drew more than 400 registrants to hear top executives from PUMA, adidas, NHL, Walmart, Champion and globally-recognized analyst, McKinsey & Company. Perhaps most exciting, we established new education and networking opportunities through interactive roundtables. Encouraging attendees to exchange ideas and insights openly, the “Back on Track” conference reinforced the benefit of this type of online engagement. We are now exploring other opportunities to increase online engagement in the new year.  

Included below, you will find a brief description of the many programs SFIA embarked on in 2020 to support your investment in the trade association. As always, I urge you and your colleagues to maximize the SFIA products and services. And if there is something you would like us to do, please contact us. We work for you.

On behalf of the SFIA Board of Directors, and the entire SFIA team, I wish you happy and safe holidays and a prosperous 2021.



Tom Cove | President and CEO

Sports & Fitness Industry Association

301.495.6321 | @TheSFIA

Industry & Public Affairs

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

  • Presented guidance on financial assistance available to the industry via Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
  • Joined footwear, apparel and consumer goods interests in request for a short-term government funding program to create cash-flow for businesses struggling during pandemic.
  • Sought expansion of PPP program to 501(c)6 non-profits and youth sports organizations.
  • Saved industry up to $48.5 million in annual tariffs via the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). SFIA had 95 percent of its (MTB) petitions for relief approved (56 of 59).
  • The USTR approved List 4A exclusion requests for certain protective headgear, swim masks and fitness equipment. The overall success rate for List 3 & 4A was 3.5 percent - a 90 percent drop from 35 percent success rate for List 1 & 2.  
  • Opposed U.S. tariff policy via the Americans for Free Trade collaborative campaign.  
  • SFIA continued pressing for extension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) tariff relief program set to expire at the end of the year. GSP provides duty free entry for products made in GSP eligible countries.
  • Secured more than 100 cosponsors for the PHIT Act prior to COVID impacting congress.
  • PHIT considered for COVID relief as consumer-driven economic stimulus to improve health.
  • Organized letter, signed by 4,000 organizations, requesting inclusion of PHIT in COVID relief package.
  • Held virtual advocacy campaign to promote PHIT inclusion in COVID relief.
  • Served as board member for Congressional football and baseball games.
  • 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 SFIA's first-ever virtual conference, attracting 400+ attendees from 173 different companies, under the theme, Back on Track: Insights & Strategies. The event featured speakers from PUMA North America, McKinsey & Company, NFL, Walmart, Hanesbrands and Technogym, as well as numerous major sports brands, retailers and The NPD Group, discussing topics such as diversity, youth sports return to play, industry trends, retail environment, & consumer behavior.
  • Hosted 5 interactive discussions at the Back on Track virtual event, highlighting return to play for youth sports, the reopening of gyms and fitness facilities, diversity in the workplace, tariffs, and return to work HR issues, allowing for all attendees to freely discuss and share thoughts, concerns and questions among peers and subject experts.
  • The Back on Track conference featured 10 exhibitors: Augusta Sportswear Brands, Engineering Systems Inc., Exponent, FlipGive, OpSec Security, RW Baird, Sports Marketing Surveys, SURYS Inc., SymGym and The NPD Group.
  • Hosted 25 webinars in 2020, garnering audiences of over 500 attendees, covering various pressing industry topics, such as legal issues, tariffs, sports participation trends, ecommerce and much more.
  • Hosted 10-part Coronavirus Webinar Series, inviting experts to answer questions and discuss pertinent subjects related to the pandemic: small business financial aid, HR issues, contract and insurance coverage, COVID impact on youth sports, and more.
  • Webinar attendance (on average) is up 131 percent compared to 2019.


Providing information and insight to drive industry decision making

  • Created 3 COVID-19 specific research reports to help the industry further understand the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. 
  • SFIA has been recognized as a leading expert on sport & fitness in a COVID-world, with SFIA research and programs frequently cited in major news outlets, including Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, WWD, USA Today, MLB, Associated Press, Axios and many more.
  • Expanded partnership with The NPD Group, which allowed SFIA to include NPD COVID-19 data and insights in our weekly newsletter and COVID-19 Resource Guide. 
  • Released 5 major research reports available to SFIA members at no cost.
  • Published 89 single sport reports, which help members analyze sports participation. Single Sport Reports break down the participation figures by gender, age group, income level, geographic region and education level.
  • Continued partnership with The Aspen Institute's Project Play initiative. SFIA participation and coaching data are used as a benchmark to track success of the initiative.  
  • 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

  • Created SFIA COVID-19 Resource Guide to assist the industry in a time of crisis, providing a curation of vetted, reliable, educational and informative resources to help members of the industry obtain financial aid, keep a pulse on the state of the industry, and address state and federal guidelines for work and play.
  • 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.
  • In 2020, SFIA welcomed 18 new member companies to its community.
  • Presented customized State of the Industry presentations at more than 5 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 the pandemic began, SFIA members have contributed to the $4.1 million in new sports equipment, apparel and footwear that Good Sports has distributed nationwide over the past several months.


Standards and 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

  • Continued to update and improve the test procedures for the NOCSAE Commotio Cordis standard. We successfully recommended changes that eliminated 2 of the 3 load cells in the test surrogate, providing more accurate test readings and reduced testing cost.
  • In response to increasing testing costs, SFIA continues to aggressively lead conversations with ASTM, NOCSAE, Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), the NFHS, NCAA, USA Baseball, US Lacrosse, USA Softball, various testing labs and NFL/Biocore on behalf of manufacturers/brands.
  • 25 companies participated in the SFIA Football Glove Program. In the 5th year of the program, we are covering 100% of the football glove market. 
  • SFIA led and continues to manage the creation of an industry task group through ASTM to develop a standard for a defensive face mask for women’s softball.
  • SFIA worked with the National Federation of High Schools and US Lacrosse to reinstitute a women’s lacrosse eye protection standard, saving the industry millions of dollars of inventory markdowns.
  • SFIA maintains relationships with numerous governing bodies and standards setting organizations including US Lacrosse, NFHS, NCAA, USA Baseball, Little League, AFCA, ABCA, USSA, ASA, ASTM, CPSC and NOCSAE.
  • Gregg Hartley (SFIA representative) is one of two NOCSAE Vice Presidents and continues to represent the industry on the NOCSAE Board of Directors. 


SFIA would like to thank its Corporate Partners for their support in 2020.

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.

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Sport-Specific Council Meetings

 Baseball & Softball Council Meeting
January 2021
SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Lacrosse Council Meeting
January 29, 2021
Virtual: 1:00 - 3:00 PM (EST)

SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Football Council Meeting
January 2021

SFIA Contact: Gregg Hartley

Soccer Council (SICA) Meeting
January 2021
SFIA Contact: Alex Kerman

USGMC, Golf Council Meeting
January 2021

SFIA Contact: Bill Sells