The SFIA Business & Risk Management Summit: Full Rundown

A jam-packed two days in Indianapolis, filled with passionate conversations, educational presentations and many new business connections.

On Tuesday, the first day of the conference, the NCAA, NFHS and SFIA hosted the annual High School & Collegiate Team Sports Rules Conference. NFHS Executive Director, Karissa Niehoff and SFIA President & CEO, Tom Cove kicked off the program, which included presentations from Dr. Erin B. Wasserman (NCAA) and Bob Colgate (NFHS) covering the organizations’ Injury Surveillance Programs, aiming to decrease injury incidents among high school and college athletes. Dan Calandro, of the NCAA, and Davis Whitfield, from the NFHS, also gave an overall NCAA and NFHS Update on current issues and status of the two organizations. SFIA’s Tom Cove provided an Industry Update, diving into participation trends and industry-related business challenges.

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As a keynote presentation, and fan-favorite of the day, Richard Gerstein, Executive Vice President & CMO of Unifi, addressed sustainability. Gerstein, a leader of Unifi’s Repreve, has been helping to create athletic apparel out of recycled materials for many of the major players in today’s market, including Under Armour, adidas and many more. To further demonstrate Repreve’s efforts, he distributed Repreve athletic socks to the entire audience. Each sock is made from just one recycled plastic bottle. Hopefully this is a lesson to all who attended: Minimal effort is required to make a major difference in our world.

For the second part of the day, 14 breakout sessions were hosted to address individual sport issues and rule changes. These meetings included governing bodies, brands, manufacturers and leagues, all representing the various sectors of each sport. Each year, these meetings tend to be the most informative and beneficial aspect to many attendees, as it brings attention to all of the minor, frequently-overlooked details of in-game rules and apparel and equipment standards. If companies and organizations do not comply with these rules and standards, penalties can be damaging.

Topping off Day 1, the networking reception brought together all attendees for some fun and good conversation (and great food!). The connection between lawyers and brands/retailers/governing bodies is a very mutually-beneficial relationship, and we are happy to serve as the liaison, bringing the two audiences together.

As for Day 2, a wide variety of topics were discussed, ranging from the darknet and cybersecurity to CTE litigation to tariffs. Mark Turnage, CEO of DarkOwl, began the morning with a live demonstration of how quickly and easily he could pull personal data from anyone on the dark web. Josh Kahn and Matt Wagman from Miles & Stockbridge advised on crisis control and how to protect your business and business partners. Following crisis, Frances Hadfield (Crowell & Moring LLP) dove into tariffs and current circumstances of various trade situations. As many companies have been affected by the tumultuous trade environment lately, Frances provided advice on how to protect yourself and insight on what the future holds.

Addressing another major issue, SFIA’s John Peters and NFLPA’s in-house counsel, Sophie Gage, hosted a fireside chat to discuss data privacy and data collection issues within the NFL. Sophie also addressed the NFLPA’s partnership with WHOOP, and its ability to empower athletes through data. And speaking of athletes and the NFL, Jason Meyer and Ben Levine (Gordon & Rees) followed with a presentation on CTE litigation and its extensive scope, affecting far more than just the football industry. Matt Sicchio, from Integro Entertainment & Sport, continued the liability theme and gave an informational presentation on risk management and insurance, especially among local organizations and youth leagues, where it has become a major issue. Lastly, John Wackman (Nilan Johnson Lewis) tied together many hot topics of the day by discussing risks of new and emerging technologies. Wackman explained how vital it is for manufacturers and retailers to provide detailed warnings and instructions on each product to prevent any legal issues that may haunt them for many years to come.

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After Day 2, the audience left feeling well aware of many issues they face everyday and far more prepared and knowledgeable of how to handle and prevent these issues from affecting their business. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed their time, and we look forward to many more educational opportunities in the future, whether it be through events or webinars. So, as always, if you have any industry concerns that you would like to learn more about, please let us know!

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SFIA is the leading global trade association in the sports & fitness industry. SFIA is the #1 source for sport & fitness research. More info at

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