Pro Leagues Supporting Passage of PHIT Act
In an unprecedented move to support exercise and healthy kids, the commissioners of the four major U.S. sports leagues – NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA – sent a joint letter to Congressional leaders asking them to help families with youth activity costs by passing the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. PHIT would lower the cost of family activity by 25-37 percent by allowing consumers to use pre-tax funds to pay for them.
According to a statement, as COVID-19 shut down youth sports the mental health of kids has suffered: “Sports are returning, but families are now faced with high inflation – creating financial challenges. Youth sports are not free and PHIT will lower the cost barrier to healthy kids’ activities.”
The letter reads, in part:
As community leaders and stewards of the game, we come together collectively concerned about the pandemic’s effects on our youth’s physical and mental health.
Across the country, pediatric specialists are sounding the alarm about the rise in adolescent depression, anxiety, and suicide. Obesity rates among children between the ages of 2 to 17 also have increased, prompting long-term physiological concerns. In working with parents, educators, and coaches, we know firsthand the vital role that sports play in brain, social, and physical development.
It is for these reasons that we ask S. 844 and H.R. 3109, the bipartisan Personal Health Investment Today (“PHIT”) Act, be included in any moving legislative vehicle. The PHIT Act lessens the cost for families who want their children involved with youth sports and other physical activities. Equally important, the PHIT Act encourages exercise and healthy lifestyles for generations to come. Currently, over 96 million Americans have access to health benefit accounts.
Yet, the accounts do not recognize exercise as a form of preventative health care. Medical experts agree that financial barriers such as school “pay-to-play” costs, fitness center dues, outdoor recreation fees and other expenses serve as a hinderance to physical activity.
The PHIT Act removes these barriers by allowing a portion of such funds to be used for qualified physical activity expenses — a much needed update to encouraging and improving mental and physical health.
As the undersigned sports organizations, we have a responsibility to lead in new contexts and this is one of those moments. We look forward to working with you as it relates to our children’s wellbeing, especially as it relates to the PHIT Act and recognizing physical fitness as a form of preventative care.