A Reflection on SFIA’s Councils Meetings — Winter 2022
Continuing to provide services to its members, SFIA held three virtual conferences for the Football Business Council, Baseball/Softball Business Council, and the Lacrosse Business Council last week, January 18–20. More than 100 members of SFIA attended the various sessions.
Tom Cove, President & CEO of SFIA, presented an updated State of The Industry message to each of the Councils. Key messages from his included that overall business in the industry is good, product sales are strong and sustained with limited discounting, and average selling prices are steady across all sectors.
Supply chain issues and COVID continue to hamper the industry, but team sports participation is recovering. Future months will see continued cost increases in raw materials, logistics, and labor, which will be passed on to consumers, and production slowdowns and transportation backlogs will present challenges.
While e-commerce has continued to grow at over 30%, brick and mortar grew steadily at 5%, indicating brands must be in both streams. Casual play increased during the pandemic lockdowns while organized core play decreased, due to closed facilities and schools. Early team numbers show core play picking back up again.
Council meeting attendees heard from and discussed participation and the future for sports with their individual governing bodies.
Baseball/Softball: The bat industry agreed to create a workgroup to tackle the scourge of “bat rolling” with the Baseball/Softball governing bodies and tournament organizers. Baseball for All has continued to grow in its efforts to bring girls and women into the game, announcing its partnerships with MLB and USA Baseball.
Football: The NFL showed exciting growth for its flag football program, with a particular focus on flag as a way for women to become involved in playing the sport. Every governing body stressed the importance of female athletes and highlighted female participation as an important key to growth in all sports.
Lacrosse: Marc Riccio, new President & CEO of USA Lacrosse, laid out his strong vision of the future for lacrosse in this country.
Standards at both the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) levels continue to be major topic areas of focus on standards for youth football helmets, prescription eye protection in lacrosse and commotio cordis standards in both baseball and lacrosse. SFIA continues to work with NOCSAE to match acceptable quality limit (AQL) requirements to various product levels.
The next meeting of these Councils will be during the SFIA/NFHS/ NCAA Team Sports Rules Conference on April 19th in Indianapolis. Information on the Team Sports Rules Conference can be found at: https://www.sfia.org/calendar/996_2022-SFIA-NFHS-NCAA-Team-Sports-Rules-Conference. Registration will open shortly.
Presentations from the meeting will be available for SFIA Members to download from the SFIA website soon.