The National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), and National Basketball Association (NBA) have publicly announced their support of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.
A bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Ron Kind (D-WI), the policy helps families cover costs of youth sports fees, encourages healthier living, and participation in youth sports.
“This bill gives kids, especially those in underserved or low-income communities, a real chance to play the sport of their choice. This isn’t just about athletics: it’s about gaining critical team-building and character-building traits that stay with kids for the rest of their lives. I thank the National Football League for supporting our efforts,” said Representative Kelly.
“As a former college football player and youth football coach myself, I’ve seen young Americans greatly improve their lives because they were able to join a team and play sports,” said Kelly, a University of Norte Dame alum.
Defining qualified sports and fitness expenses as amounts paid exclusively for participating in a physical activity, including fitness facility memberships, physical exercise or activity programs, or equipment for a physical exercise or activity program, the PHIT ACT allows a medical care tax deduction for up to $1,000 ($2,000 for a joint return or a head of household) of qualified sports and fitness expenses per year.
According to the Aspen Institute, the cost barrier to youth sports has risen to an average of almost $900 per sport annually.
“Staying active is the best preventative medicine, and it’s especially important for kids and teens as they build healthy habits,” said Representative Ron Kind.
“As a former college football player, I thank the National Football League for supporting the PHIT Act,” said Kind, a Harvard University alum.
“For many families, cost can be a barrier to participating in physical activities and youth sports. The PHIT Act is a commonsense way to invest in a healthy future for our children by making it more affordable for families to ensure physical activity is a regular part of their lives,” said Kind.
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.
This follows a letter to Congressional leadership signed by commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball (MLB), earlier this year, supporting Representative Kelly’s and Representative Kind’s bill.
“Healthy lifestyles with exercise for adults and youth sports for kids have become a foundational part of our communities. Unfortunately, with inflation and budget cuts, local gyms and youth leagues are having to charge more making physical exercise and activities less accessible for working families,” said Representative Jimmy Panetta, (D-CA), a co-sponsor of the bill.
“The PHIT Act would provide financial incentives so that more kids can stay active through youth sports leagues and more parents and adults can stay fit at local fitness facilities,” said Panetta.
“I’m proud of this bipartisan legislation and thrilled that our nation’s professional sports leagues are part of the team effort to promote the PHIT Act and perpetuate healthy communities, said Panetta.
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.
COVID-19 has left a devasting impact on children and youth sports participation, causing their mental health to suffer and poor life outcomes.
Research shows that youth benefit from involvement in sports ranging from increased physical, social, emotional and mental health to better grades and increased interpersonal and leadership skills.
“Reps. Kind, Kelly and Panetta deserve great credit for supporting youth sports,” said Tom Cove, President of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
“We thank them for their stalwart leadership to pass the PHIT Act, making sports more affordable for every American family and helping promote healthy lifestyles,” said Cove.