Washington, DC is being bombarded with sporting goods industry executives, athletes, and lobbyists this spring, as one trade organization after another heads for The Hill. Led by the Outdoor Industry Association’s Capital Summit in April (BOSS_0415), D.C. policymakers will be visited by P.E.4Life on May 4th and 5th, and then by the International Health & Racquet Sports Club Association May 19th through 21st.

The big news coming out of the OIA’s visit to the Capital was the introduction of the Get Outdoors Act. The GO Act funds programs that are critical to the outdoor and sporting goods industries such as the Stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program. Since its enactment in 1964, LWCF has been responsible for the acquisition of nearly seven million acres of protected land and open space, and the development of more than 40,000 state and local athletic fields, hiking and biking trails, campgrounds and swimming facilities.

The funding for UPARR, in many ways is even more important to the future of the outdoor and sporting goods industries. UPARR matches local dollars for projects that enhance recreation opportunities in urban communities.

Federal funding for urban outdoor recreation has been reduced to zero in the past year. While acquisition funding for national parks takes a high priority, establishing trail systems that provide daily use for large urban areas is crucial to the growth and survival of the industry.

Professional Athletes, local educators, sporting goods manufacturers and retailers will join P.E.4Life and meet one-on-one with lawmakers to establish greater support for the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) grant program. This grant program will provide $70 million in FY2004 funds to local educational agencies and community-based organizations to help cover the cost of initiating, expanding and improving physical education programs.

The IHRSA’s major ongoing initiative is their effort to push the Workforce Health Improvement Program into law. The WHIP act would allow employees to deduct health club memberships from their tax returns. The act would also ensure that memberships provided as an employee benefit are not classified as additional income.

With different members of the industry showing up on the doorsteps of members of Congress and Representatives each week, the unified anti-obesity message is bound to get across eventually.

To learn more about how you can get involved to help lobby for the issues that affect our industry, contact Sheryl Stanley at 816.472.7345, or SGMA’s VP of Government Affairs, Tom Cove, or John Loving, SGMA’s Manager of Government Relations, at 202.775.1762.

Registration for events on May 4 & 5 closes April 27.