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Volume 6 | No. 3 | May/June 2018


Making the Right Decisions with 2018 NSGA Research

How to Create the Right Shopping Environment A Look at NSGA’s New Sports Participation Data Recapping the NFHS/NCAA Rules Meeting NSGA NOW®

July/August 2017 | 1

STAHLS’ HELPS YOU WIN From our earliest tradition of durable felt lettering to today’s technologically advanced heat printing equipment and innovative materials for performance wear and sublimated jerseys, we have what you need to personalize quickly and profitably. | 800.478.2457





Helping You Get it Right With Your Customers


Insights Now

8 10

Membership Now

Making the Right Decisions with 2018 NSGA Research

Wicked Rags Ready to Make Innovative Impact in Hockey Industry

Retail Now

Making Sure You Are Part of the Retail Renaissance


Conference Now


Rules Now


Industry Now

Retail Design Expert Matt Nurre on How to Create the Right Shopping Environment

A Recap of the Annual NFHS/NCAA Rules Meeting

Gill Athletic and Porter Athletics Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries


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CEO NOW The customer has always been right. This may be the only aspect of customers which hasn’t changed in recent years. Now they can quickly and easily search their mobile devices to back up this belief. And they won’t hesitate to consider other purchasing options.

NSGA OFFICERS Chairman of the Board David Labbe

Kittery Trading Post, Kittery, ME

Treasurer/Chairman-Elect Cathy Pryor

Hibbett Sports, Birmingham, AL

Past Chairman Randy Nill

Nill Bros. Sporting Goods, Kansas City, KS


Cleve’s Source for Sports, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Pat Donnelley

Donnelley Sports, Twin Falls, ID

Rhett Johnson

Johnson-Lambe Co., Raleigh, NC

Greg Miller

Universal Athletic, Bozeman, MT

Jeff Miller

Scholastic Sports Sales, Ltd., Manlius, NY

John Oehler

Dunham’s Sports, Troy, MI

Jerry Williams

Schuylkill Valley Sports, Pottstown, PA


The 2018 NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit is focused on a better understanding of the customer experience. It is more important than ever to ensure you continue to satisfy the people who are the backbone of your business. There are educational sessions on how to compete with the changes Amazon has brought toward customer expectations. Finding and hiring the right employees, and then making sure your younger staff members have the necessary expertise and engagement skills, is another important component of this year’s leadership event. Customers are also captivated by unique shopping experiences. Matt Nurre, the President of Retail Design Source, will hold a session on how to create an environment that keeps your customers coming back. You can learn more about Nurre on page 12 of this issue of NSGA NOW ® and we encourage you to complete the application to potentially have an audit of your retail location’s shopping environment. On the team dealer side, and consistent with our mission to grow the business, the program highlights business opportunities with sessions on recovery products used more and more by youth athletes, and an interactive session on innovative decorating techniques with Stahls. We hope you share our excitement for the panel discussion regarding selling more through a better understanding of the development models of USA Football and Major League Baseball. Speaking of customers, for the second year we will have our Speed Networking with a series of short meetings between manufacturers and retailers or team dealers on Monday afternoon. We are pleased by the response we received from last year’s inaugural session and we have made some improvements for this year’s event. Our Speed Networking session is a great way to achieve the diversified business portfolio previously mentioned as so important. We’re looking forward to another great time this year in Bonita Springs. If you couldn’t make to the Conference this time we hope to see you in 2019 in Georgia!

President & CEO

Marty Maciaszek

Director, Team Dealer Division and HDA

Julie Pitts

Director, Business Development and Research

Larry Weindruch

Best regards, Matt Carlson President & CEO

Director, Public Affairs

Dan Wiersma

Chief Financial Officer

NSGA NOW® (ISSN 1045-2087) is published bi-monthly for members of the National Sporting Goods Association, 1601 Feehanville Dr., Suite 300, Mount Prospect, IL 60056-6035; Phone: (847) 296-NSGA (6742); Fax: (847) 391-9827. Subscription price of $50 per year is included in membership fee. Non-member subscription information available from publisher. Periodical postage paid at Mount Prospect, IL 60056 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to NSGA NOW,® 1601 Feehanville Dr., Suite 300, Mount Prospect, IL 60056-6035. © by NSGA 2017. Printed in the USA.

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Updated Insights into Participation Trends, Demographics and Cross Participation Now Available By Nick Rigitano, Research and Information Manager

NSGA recently released the 2018 edition of its Sports Participation in the U.S. report — a must-have guide for any organization looking for key insights into the sporting goods industry. For more than 30 years, NSGA has been the industry’s leader in providing reliable research and information to sporting goods executives.

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Figure 1 | 2017 Total Participation Points Percent Change vs. 2016 3.0

Open Water






Personal Contact







-0.5 -1.0





Indoor Games

The 2017 topline results point to mixed performance among the 10 segments tracked by NSGA. In total, 2017 saw five segments increase in participation, four segments decrease and one remain flat compared to 2016. As illustrated in Figure 1, the segments experiencing growth based on NSGA’s Total Participation Points (TPP) measure were Open Water Sports (+2.7%), Outdoor Activities (+2.5%), Snow Sports (+1.4%), Personal Contact Sports (+0.6%) and Individual Sports (+0.5%). Segments declining were Team Sports (-0.6%), Fitness Activities (-1.3%), Shooting Sports (-1.9%) and Indoor Games (-1.9%). The Wheel Sports segment remained flat (+0.1%). The benefit of TPPs is a more complete view of participation, because both the number of people participating in each sport segment (reach) and the number of sports each person is participating in (depth) are taken into account. This year’s mixed results continue a pattern of inconsistency and lack of growth experienced in recent years.

Among the segments tracked by NSGA, only Open Water Sports and Outdoor Activities have experienced increases in each of the last three years (2015–2017), while all other segments have experienced increases and decreases over the same period. The Sports Participation in the U.S. report includes a summary snapshot of segment participation trends from the 1990s through 2017 based on the TPP measure introduced two years ago. The report also includes easyto-understand quick view snapshots by sport/activity, allowing users to easily see a 10-year participation trend (when available) in addition to key demographic and geographic drivers of participation. NSGA’s participation research also includes Cross Participation, Lifecycle Demographics and Single Sport reports.


For more information

on each report and to purchase your copies today, please visit

In the next issue of NSGA NOW,® we will give a topline overview of the 2018 Edition of the Sporting Goods Market report covering retail sales, which is also currently available on the Research Offerings page of the NSGA website. NSGA NOW®

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The SockJock™ Looks to Make an Innovative Impact for Hockey Athletes of All Ages and Abilities By Marty Maciaszek, Director, Hockey Dealers Association and NSGA Team Dealer Division

Playing in a high school alumni game brought out the worst of hockey memories for Travis Amburgey. Amburgey was a first-team all-state player in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan. Getting ready to get back on the ice was fine until it was time to put on compression shorts, jock support with worn-out Velcro and hockey socks. If that wasn’t enough, he had to complete the process by using clear tape to secure his shin guards.

“I wanted to be in the sports world and I was thinking of ideas,” said Amburgey, who was in his senior year at Albion College in Michigan. “That night when I was getting dressed it was like a light bulb went off.” It started with a sample idea to design the most innovative, performance-based undergarment to ever be seen in the hockey industry. The SockJock™ was born. The result is the development of Wicked Rags and the patented SockJock™ . It eliminates the need for separate compression pants, jock support and hockey socks. It also includes the elements such as active compression moisture-wicking material to enhance player performance. Amburgey will be exhibiting The SockJock™ in the Innovations Arena at the NSGA 54th Annual Management Conference & 20th Annual Team Dealer Summit on May 20–22 in Bonita Springs, Florida.

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“My initial thought was, ‘Why didn’t I think of this sooner?’” Amburgey, who is now based out of the Minneapolis–St. Paul suburb of St. Louis Park, said with a laugh. “I thought I’d be retired by now because everybody says it’s so easy to use and it is exactly what hockey has been waiting for.” Amburgey may not be ready for retirement just yet. But he is encouraged by the response, which he believes will eventually lead The SockJock™ to become very popular in hockey circles. He is hoping to replace the way hockey athletes have gotten dressed since the inception of the sport. “To date I’ve never sold one and had it returned,” Amburgey said. “As people put it on the light bulb goes off and they say, ‘This is amazing.’ It’s a pound lighter and there is a true performance apparel component to it. “Hockey moms with one or two kids who play hockey, when they get them dressed, clear tape is a hassle. You put The SockJock™ on like a pair of pants allowing a youth skater to dress themselves, it’s so easy.” Why there wasn’t something simpler out there was the big question for Amburgey. “Why is this process three separate pieces of equipment?” he said. “You see the innovation in hockey with skates, sticks and helmets, and everything progresses. “Look at hockey beyond that for 100 years and there isn’t a ton of innovation when it comes to the undergarment side. Why do we get dressed like this?”

Combining the three pieces into one performance-based undergarment using moisture-wicking compression material was not easy. Manufacturing was the biggest hurdle the past couple of years. Amburgey has finally found a great partner and is now launching a complete apparel line. It will debut at the NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit. The feedback from high-level hockey players was positive. It included veteran NHL defenseman Mark Stuart and up-and-coming NHL star Anders Lee. “I skated with pro guys in Minnesota and they noticed how they felt much more free and flexible when they didn’t have clear, constricting tape on their thighs and shin guards,” Amburgey said. “The SockJock™ allows for the greatest freedom for maximum movement, agility and comfort. “Mark Stuart is one of our biggest advocates. He’ll wear it during training sessions and practice during the summer months.”

The SockJock™ is fully customizable with team colors and logos. Not only is it a potential blessing for hockey moms, since it’s easy to wash and have their kids wear, it is also a big boost for the high-level player. “At the youth level it saves parents five minutes to get dressed and five minutes to get undressed, but when you go up the ranks to the top, players aren’t using it because it’s easy,” Amburgey said. “They’re using it because they believe they can enhance their performance and recovery times due to less restriction. “I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out. With thousands of people across the country to Canada and even Switzerland, we’ve never had anybody try it on and not buy it and nobody has returned it. That speaks volumes for the product itself.

“Everybody who has bought it has reordered it. That speaks to the product being what I envisioned. Now it’s a matter of getting it to the masses.” So players can focus solely on the good times in front of them — or the ones in the past in Amburgey’s case — as they put on The SockJock™ .

® ® NSGA NSGANOW NOW March/April May/June 2018 | 9


Retail Renaissance or Apocalypse?

By Matt Carlson, NSGA President & CEO

Some retailers’ demise or distress has been fully documented. Each has its set of reasons, some unique to each company, some shared by many retailers, including those as large as Macy’s, Sears and The Sports Authority.

Characteristics of the Renaissance

Lori Mitchell-Keller, the Global General Manager of Consumer Industries at SAP, wrote an article for “The Robin Report” on Sept. 20, 2017. She identifies customer responsiveness as a key Renaissance ingredient:

“While there are several elements playing a role in retail success, the most important is the ability to be responsive to customer demand. It is essential to leverage data to understand consumer buying habits and ensure expectations are being met. Brands now have more data about shoppers than ever before. They need to put that data to work to address tailored consumer wants and needs.”

Competition with Amazon, Internet sellers and direct-to-consumer sales are often cited as factors.

Customers want to shop on their terms. They want to buy what they want, where they want and when they want. The customers’ decisions rule the day, not your desires as a business owner.

A commonly overlooked theme is the customer has changed-significantly and quickly, and, depending on how retailers and team dealers respond to that change may well determine whether your company falls into the “renaissance category” or the “apocalypse category.”

As the trade association representing sports retailers and dealers, NSGA prefers brands to share the data, insights and support with those partners. Retailers and dealers can be accretive to what the brands are trying to accomplish. Carrie Ask, EVP & President, Global Retail at Levi Strauss & Company, said it best during a recent retail convention presentation in Las Vegas, when referring to investing marketing dollars to support the brand, she summarized what Levi’s spends on marketing must drive sales at Levi’s, but also at Nordstrom where Levi’s are carried. Levi’s seeks mutual benefit in spending those dollars rather than an “either-or” proposition. Ask defines best-in-class stores as experiential and inspirational. Stores should not just be places to buy commodities, they should be platforms for enhancing customer experience and drawing those customers close to the brands you sell. Stores can serve as important locations to activate customer engagement and interest, all of which contributes to repeat business, growing word of mouth marketing and loyal patrons.

©Vatical Museums and Galleries, Vatican City, Italy / The Bridgeman Art Library. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

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Additional Preparation for the Renaissance

Customers also look for personalization in the products they buy and connections they make with other users. Product peer reviews are now more important than expertise offered by retail sales floor employees. Renaissance companies offer product personalization, personalized customer service, targeted marketing and responsive social media. They don’t allow an unfair review to go unchecked and they thank reviewers for feedback. Store experience is a differentiator in the marketplace and your digital image, including website presence and eCommerce capacity, is expected to be a fantastic, friction-free experience. The rise of voice-command shopping drives the frictionless point home. Some retail experts believe if eCommerce companies can make reordering toilet paper as easy as saying “yes” to a voice command from Siri or Alexa, consumers will never buy it again from any other retailer. Thus, a new commerce channel emerges: “V-commerce.” An important question business owners should ask themselves is, “does my website do everything we need it to do to exceed customer expectations?” NSGA’s “Shopper Playbook: Insights into the Sporting Goods Shopper” (2015) confirms that purchase options are being studied early in the path to purchase and shoppers visit an average of 3.5 websites and 2.1 stores before they finalize their purchase decision. Shopping in physical stores is still a favorite “play call” as 9 out of every 10 sporting goods shoppers visit a physical store prior to purchasing a product, and, most sporting goods shoppers prefer to purchase in-store (66 percent). Those business owners who prepare a quality experience both in-store and digitally, will convert those customers to long-term loyal customers. Renaissance companies don’t just sell things, they provide experiences. Steve Dennis, President at SageBerry Consulting, wrote in a Forbes blog on March 20 that “Physical Retail Is Not Dead: Boring Retail Is.” Don’t be boring!

Tools for the Renaissance

Be Part of the Renaissance

NSGA prepared a tool to help companies generate these fantastic experiences. Available to members at the annual Management Conference, or by contacting NSGA, the “NSGA Special Events Toolkit: Make your customers feel special by throwing an unforgettable event” details several different ideas and offers a roadmap to successfully implementing brick-and-mortar events. Although the kit is on the right track — helping our members create that special experience customers look for — it is only one component.

The ideas and suggestions illustrated in this article paint a pathway for sports retailers and dealers. Your trade association stands ready to help you advance and will provide further collective action where members find it valuable.

Developing deep relationships with families, schools, booster clubs and coaches is more important today than ever and those relationships must be developed to support your organization, not the individual (self-dealer) who wants to create those relationships for his or her personal benefit. This issue speaks to having the right people on your team who are all aligned toward a common purpose. Renaissance companies seek deep customer relationships, which requires the ability to capture and use customer data in a respectful and mutually beneficial way.

Then there are others who seize the day, capture today’s consumer, and convert them to lifelong customers. They are Renaissance business owners and will likely survive the retail apocalypse.

Renaissance companies develop a loyalty program that encourages consumers to consider only your company, or even you personally, when they think about the products you sell. Eric Messerschmidt, Senior VP, Strategic Marketing, CRM and Loyalty at beauty retailer Ulta, expresses the customer loyalty program much like building a pool. The infrastructure to handle your customer database needs to be built, including the wiring, routers, hardware and software. This represents the concrete that holds water in the pool. Then the customer data must be discovered, i.e. “the water in the pool.” The third step is to use the pool, to have the parties so people enjoy the fun so much that they always want to come back. The experience must be consistent across all channels (mobile first, digital and in-store) and meet the customer on their terms, not yours.

Execution of the ideas is up to each business owner. There are some who may not have finished reading this article and there are others that think to themselves, “I’ve done it this way for 90 years and it’s gotten me this far, why should I change?”

Make your customers feel special by throwing an unforgettable event! The NSGA Special Events Toolkit offers a roadmap to successfully implementing brick-andmortar events. Email to request your copy today!

® ® NSGA NSGANOW NOW March/April May/June 2018 | 11


The Wow! Factor: Create the Right Shopping Environment By Julie Pitts, NSGA Business Development and Research Director

 You are the President of Retail Design Source in Chicago. Can you provide a little information about your company?

MN: Retail Design Source or “RDS” is a company I founded 7 years ago. The company has been many things in retail over the years from designing and manufacturing retail store fixtures and displays to full turnkey retail design consulting services to retailers and brands. I really love challenges and being part of bridging the business of art and commerce in retail is very fulfilling.

 How did you get into retail store design?

MN: I really got into retail design from my time studying Industrial Design at The Ohio State University. The Industrial Design department focused on three disciplines which were interiors, product development and graphic design. Being inspired by new trends in retail at the time like large lifestyle graphics and technologies like ATM, I focused my college thesis and studies on retail interiors. I loved to draw but felt illustrating one product over and over was boring; an environment full of products that could be styled like a cohesive universal product was compelling and thus is the direction I have spent all my career.

Matt Nurre, President of Retail Design Source

NSGA supports its members’ efforts to grow their businesses. Matt Nurre, a retail design expert, has partnered with NSGA to provide complimentary store audits to three eligible NSGA member retailers (see application on following pages). NSGA and Nurre discuss the challenges of shopping environments and why retailers need to invest in their stores in order to sell more.

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Y  our presentation at the 2018 NSGA Management

Conference & Team Dealer Summit will be about creating the “right” shopping environment. What constitutes the “right” shopping environment? What tenets of design are considered when planning a retail store?

MN: I am very excited to be able to present at the 2018 NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit and am honored to be among such an amazing group of brands and retailers. We all know that retail is changing at a lightning-fast pace and trends and gimmicks are all over the place. There are core design principles that help to frame the context of what are “right” for a brand or shopper environment. Some of the top-performing retailers are true to their core values; they look deep and hard at this and work outward. I love this quote from Steve Jobs, “Most people think that good design is only what something looks like but actually good design is how it works.” This is one of the basic building blocks to a good retail design strategy: What do you stand for as a retailer?

Y  ou have worked with countless retailers, including many

in the sporting goods and sports specialty space. What do today’s customers expect when shopping one of these stores?

MN: People’s expectations today are very high for brands and retailers; you need to provide a compelling reason to come to the store. Stores today must provide a compelling experience to capture and keep clients engaged. What the store and presentation look like says a lot about your commitment to your segment. How are you offering something an online store cannot? Are you using your store as a showroom but also educating your guests that you are the experts at what you sell? Some retailers have adopted the term of BOPIS or “buy online and pick up in store” to drive store traffic and still be able to offer commodity items to build on this experience in a physical space. Y  ou have mentioned that retailers really need to identify

their selling strengths and then capitalize on them. Can you describe a process in which a retailer can identify its strengths? How should these strengths be measured?

MN: This gets back to the question of: What do you stand for or what is your mission? A retailer or a brand cannot be all things to everyone so identifying those goods and services that you feel are the pinnacle of this is the core. Measuring is hugely important as this not only bridges margins and revenue for the retailer, but also what does this look like in a physical space? What resources need to be allocated to make this look great in-store and ultimately drive sales for me at the register? Are you measuring foot traffic and dwell time in-store and then tying this back to receipts at the register? T  he store environment is about selling more. How does

the shopping environment create customer loyalty?

MN: I believe even the smallest stores can do a lot to create brand loyalty. In most cases retailers do not make anything, but exist to provide a compelling shopper experience. The term “surprise and delight” has been a successful mantra with some stores and they have quite a following because of this. How are you going above and beyond in brick and mortar, online and in your community? What are you doing to provide the best experience possible? What are you doing differently? Is your store ground zero for your vertical and does your last sale recommend you to others? W  hat advice do you have for a small sporting goods retailer

with limited resources for store improvement? What investments have the highest impact?

MN: Good design should not cost more, but it should be clean and easy to understand what your mission is as a retailer. Consistency is a great start, making all aspects of your store look uniform and part of a cohesive system not only makes the store organized but is easier for your guests to shop your retail offerings. Other high-impact considerations are compelling in-store events: Do you have an area for experts to come to the store to demonstrate products and make consultations?

W  hat does the future of retail store design look like? MN: The future of the retail store is about the convergence of many things, this is a good online and brick-and-mortar strategy (Bricks & Clicks). Most retailers are looking for smaller footprints but better locations to build on what the experience is that they are providing for the customer. The store employs personnel who are brand experts, they live and breathe the products the store sells and are brand advocates. Technology at retail is huge; the use of augmented reality and dynamic client facing technologies will be everywhere. Using the full power of client’s mobile devices to push coupons from beacons, track impressions and post experiences to social platforms are happening now. Advancements in onsite customization of products and even manufacturing of products in-store through high-speed 3D printing will be commonplace….. this is an experience! Y  ou are a former college athlete and now a competitive

sailor. How do these experiences influence your creative design skills in sporting goods stores?

MN: I believe if you train and practice at a high level you do not need to rise to the occasion, your training and discipline have prepared you to perform. I believe that this is true to creative design, and retail in general, especially in today’s hyper-competitive environment. You have to get out of your comfort zone as a business to identify the opportunities in the marketplace to succeed.  I n terms of shopping environments, what is the

worst thing a retailer can do to take away from the customer experience?

MN: There are so many ways to lose in today’s competitive retail environment. I advise that doing nothing to improve your appearance online and in-store will be detrimental. You must know who your customer is and acknowledge that she does not have a lot of time and is very distracted. Your time with her in-store has to be clean, concise and an experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Y  ou have partnered with NSGA to provide three “audits” for

select retail locations. NSGA member retailers are asked to complete the application (next page) for consideration. Why should a retailer complete the application for a complimentary store environment audit?

MN: I want to partner with retailers who are interested in supercharging their store design and retail presence. The store audit is there to provide an expert and objective opinion based on the current concept and look at opportunities to be more competitive aesthetically and functionally. We will look at branding, store design, visual merchandising, fixturing, graphic design, omnichannel, staffing and overall flow of the store.

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CONFERENCE NOW Application for Complimentary Shopping Environment Audit COMPANY







Describe store location and building. (Include approximate age of building and neighboring stores/office) Is the store a stand-alone structure? (Please circle yes or no) YES NO

What design elements of the store do you think require improvements?

Were you planning a store improvement program in the near future? If so, briefly explain why.

Eligibility and Rules | All applicants must be NSGA members in good standing. Eligibility and selection of any application will be at the sole discretion of NSGA. By signing below, applicant agrees to a royalty-free and perpetual right to use, reproduce, edit, transmit, prepare derivative works of, modify, publish and otherwise make use of the audit findings which will not include specific store/retailer information. NSGA will use information from the shopping environment audit for member education. Specific stores and locations will remain confidential. Applicant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless NSGA, its officers, employees, agents, and representatives from any resulting claim, demand, action, loss, liability, expense or dispute arising from this application and possible subsequent audit in any action either brought by NSGA against applicant or a third party or from any lawsuit in which NSGA is named as a defendant.

Applicant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Retail Design Source, its officers, employees, agents, and representatives from any resulting claim, demand, action, loss, liability, expense or dispute arising from this application and possible subsequent audit in any action either brought by Retail Design Source against applicant or a third party or from any lawsuit in which Retail Design Source is named as a defendant. Audits will be for conceptual purposes only. Should applicant elect to make improvements, applicant will be responsible for compliance with all local, state and federal laws. With applicant’s authorized signatory, applicant agrees to the Eligibility and Rules.



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Recapping the NFHS-NCAA Rules Conference By Marty Maciaszek , NSGA Team Dealer Division Director

The annual National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and NCAA Rules Conference is an opportunity to learn more about impending or potential rule changes related to uniforms and equipment. Here are some of the highlights from the April 17 meeting in Indianapolis: Football

There are issues with high school jerseys and game administration that will be addressed within the next year, according to NFHS Director of Sports and Sports Medicine Bob Colgate. One is with the difficulty of distinguishing between the Vegas Gold color used in home jerseys and white used in away jerseys. Colgate said the NFHS Football Rules Committee wants plain, solid numbers on jerseys so fans, coaches, officials and media can see the numbers better. Getting helmet chin strap buckles changed from metal to a safer product is also a priority. Pants must completely cover the knees.


A reminder that the new NOCSAE standard to be used for NFHS baseballs goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019. The new standard for NFHS chest protection to prevent commotio cordis goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. NFHS is still looking at sensor technology in bats to get a better understanding, according to NFHS Director of Sports, Sanctioning and Student Services Elliot Hopkins. The technology is OK for use in practice but not in games. Hopkins also said South Dakota is interested in sanctioning baseball (it currently has no state series) and Massachusetts has adopted NFHS baseball rules. Two NCAA rules related to bats go into effect Sept. 1, 2019. Baseball barrel bat testing requirements start for Division I with the 2020 season (Divisions II and III in 2021) and the barrel design must be a contrasting color to the ball. NCAA assistant director Ben Brownlee said there is an increasing interest in use of technology without damaging the pace of play and integrity of the sport.

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For the 2018 season, NFHS addressed the use and placement of the wristband playbook/play card and defined it as a piece of equipment and not a garment. They are worn on the forearm and not required to adhere to color restrictions. It is also the coach’s responsibility to verify players are legally equipped — including all bats and helmets used in the game. Defensive facemasks continue to be permissible, but NFHS Director of Sports Sandy Searcy said an upcoming issue that will be addressed are tinted eye shields with the facemask. There is currently no rule prohibiting tinted eye shields but there is a proposal for a rule to be consistent with no tinted eye shields allowed on batting helmets or catcher’s gear. In April, Montana mandated pitchers and first and third basemen wear a protective mask, which is a single solid color (excluding padding) and unadorned, starting with the 2018–19 season. Kentucky has a similar rule for pitchers and corner infielders and Missouri requires pitchers to wear face protection and urges it for corner infielders. Searcy said a rule allowing uniforms to have only the school name, school nickname, school logo or player’s name will probably be implemented in the next two to three years.

There is also no push to develop NOCSAE standards for softballs or chest protectors for commotio cordis for NFHS softball, according to Searcy. Changes to the certification marks on bats are also expected from USA Softball. The new bats would be allowable for use in 2019 and required for use in 2020, according to USA Softball Director of Umpires Kevin Ryan.


NFHS’ Elliot Hopkins said the two-piece alternate uniform “saw a tremendous response across the country” but he doesn’t anticipate it being mandated. Hopkins said it will continue to be offered as an alternative to the singlet. Hopkins also reiterated that beyond the one manufacturer’s logo or trademark, no promotional items are allowed on uniforms. That includes any company logo that may fit with a school nickname, anything with USA Wrestling or for some type of cause. Ten states will offer girls-only state championships in 2018–19 and Hopkins expects another 5-to-10 states to add girls wrestling in subsequent years. The NCAA’s delayed implementation of all mats complying with ASTM standards goes into effect with the 2018–19 season.


The revision to the football helmet standard, with pass-fail testing for rotational acceleration, goes into effect in November. NOCSAE Executive Director Mike Oliver emphasized that does not make football helmets currently in use or that were manufactured before November obsolete. Oliver said NOCSAE is trying to make the point clear to schools and organizations. Oliver said the NFHS baseball standard, which essentially mimics the Major League Baseball standard, could be moved from a January 2019 implementation to February. Oliver also said there are concerns with counterfeit lacrosse balls and said has list of certified models.

Track and Field/Cross Country

NFHS Director of Sports Julie Cochran said there is no change likely from a traditional starter’s pistol to electronic devices but said it is a possibility down the road. Cochran also clarified there are no rules against reflective elements in uniforms. But she said there have been issues in Colorado with schools wearing uniforms that say “Throwers, Sprinters, Jumpers, etc.,” which is illegal. Cochran also said NFHS will define what constitutes a foundation garment in its rules book.


May/June 2018 | 17


Gill and Porter Celebrate Historic Anniversaries By Marty Maciaszek, Director, NSGA Team Dealer Division

Gill and Porter are two of the iconic names in sporting goods equipment. Their innovation has allowed them to stand the tests of time and navigate inevitable challenges on the way to achieving significant milestones. On April 18, Gill Athletics celebrated its 100th anniversary and Porter Athletic celebrated its 150th at the Champaign, Illinois headquarters of their parent company, Litania Sports Group (LSG). Numerous special guests, including NSGA President & CEO Matt Carlson and NSGA Director of Business Development & Research Julie Pitts attended the event which included a showroom welcome event, VIP factory tour and gathering with more than 150 employees. LSG President & CEO David Hodge addressed the attendees and employees about the Gill and Porter milestones and how they are positioned to grow and serve the athletic facility market in the future. The mayor from Champaign was in attendance and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was unable to attend the event, but he toured the facility and addressed the employees in February. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was unable to attend the event but he toured the facility and addressed the employees in February. Gill Athletics was founded in 1918 by Canadian native Harry Gill, a legendary track and field athlete and coach who was in the fifth induction class of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 1960. Gill won the American All-Around Championship in 1900 and went on to coach at Beloit College in Wisconsin and the University of Illinois.


May/June 2018

Illinois won two NCAA team and 22 Big Ten team championships championships during Gill’s 30-year tenure as head coach. He also wrote Track and Field Athletics: For Coach and Contestant, and in the book said “a great deal of care should be taken in selecting the equipment used by track and field athletes. Their performance depends on the implements they have in which and with which to compete — and good equipment helps considerably in making the best performances.” But Gill was not happy with the quality of track equipment at the time and none of it was manufactured commercially in the United States. In 1918, he crafted his first implement, the ash javelin, and four years later Gill was manufacturing a full line of track and field equipment. Gill’s innovations also included a weight-testing device for bamboo vaulting poles, a discus centering centrifugal force on the outside rim, the first heavy base pole vaulting standards, the first aluminum vaulting pole, starting blocks, the L-type rocker hurdle and a vaulting pole of aluminum and brass used to establish many records. Today, Gill Athletics is an equipment partner with the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Porter’s roots are in the farming industry as the J.E. Porter Company was established in 1868 for the manufacture of pulleys, hardware and hay loft equipment. In 1893, J.E. Porter became a stockholder and president of the Inland Steel Company in suburban Chicago and Inland Steel made Porter’s new steel rail.

In the 1920s, Porter transitioned into manufacturing basketball, gymnasium and playground equipment. In 1939, Porter’s playground apparatus was chosen exclusively for Children’s World at the World’s Fair in New York. A decade later, Porter was the world’s largest manufacturer of playground, gymnasium and swimming pool equipment.

Porter now offers total facility solutions for basketball, volleyball and gymnasium equipment with an emphasis on the athlete’s safety and performance. The goal for Gill and Porter is to achieve even greater milestones by continuing to help athletes perform at the top of their games.

Photos courtesy of Litania Sports Group


55TH ANNUAL Management Conference & 21ST ANNUAL Team Dealer Summit

May 19–21, 2019

Château Élan Winery & Resort | Braselton, Georgia

NSGA NOW May June 2018 Issue  
NSGA NOW May June 2018 Issue