SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove to Retire in October 2024

(June 13, 2024) – The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) today announced that President & CEO Tom Cove will retire effective October 4, 2024. Cove has led the organization since 2005 and previously served as SFIA’s Vice President of Government Relations for more than 13 years.

During his tenure, Cove oversaw the transformation of the association from a traditional tradeshow-focused manufacturers group into a full-service industry organization delivering unparalleled sport and business advocacy, world-class sports participation research and analysis, innovative thought leadership and events, and a wide variety of targeted member services to address the specific needs of industry companies. In 2014, Cove led the Board of Directors through a foundational strategic review and rebranding process for the 108-year-old organization that re-established its mission and strengthened its foundation for generations to come.

Among Cove’s signature leadership accomplishments were the Congressional passage and funding of the Carol White PEP program, which drove almost $1 billion into local physical education programs around the country; the ground-breaking program to eliminate child labor in global soccer ball production, for which SFIA was awarded the Corporate Conscience Award; the Industry Participation Plan (IPP), a multi-million dollar collaboration which coalesced the entire sports and fitness industry to support legislation and grassroots programs to increase physical activity and sports participation; the establishment of National PE Day and National Health Through Fitness Day, bringing hundreds of celebrity athletes and industry executives to lobby Capitol Hill annually; and the creation of SFIA’s Start Up Challenge, Sports & Technology Conference, Industry Leaders Summit, Litigation and Risk Management Summit, Team Sports Conference, and multiple other national industry events.   

Current SFIA Board Chair Jon Ram praised Cove’s leadership, stating, “Tom has been a true visionary, always pushing the industry forward. His passion for sports and fitness has been evident in every initiative he has undertaken. We thank him for his immense contributions and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

“Tom’s dedication and vision have been invaluable to SFIA and the entire sports and fitness industry,” said Chris Clawson, General Manager of Gymtech, and former SFIA Board Chairman. “His tireless efforts have positioned SFIA as a leader in promoting physical activity and sports participation. We are grateful for his years of service and the lasting impact he has made.”

Industry leaders also expressed their appreciation for Cove’s work. “Tom has been a fantastic partner to Brooks and a strong advocate for the running community,” said Dan Sheridan, CEO of Brooks Running. “His commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles through sports and fitness has been truly inspiring.”

Roman Oben, VP of Strategy for the NFL commended Cove’s efforts in promoting youth sports participation. “Tom has been a key ally in our efforts to encourage youth to be active and engaged in sports. His leadership has helped create opportunities for countless young athletes.”

Jennifer Bendall, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Nike, added, “Tom’s advocacy work has been crucial in advancing the interests of the sports and fitness industry. He has been a unifying force, bringing together companies and organizations to drive positive change.”

The SFIA Board of Directors, assisted by the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, is conducting a comprehensive search to identify Cove’s successor. Cove will assist in the transition process to ensure a smooth handoff of leadership.

“It is a tremendous privilege to work every day for a mission you believe in, a cause you have passion about, with people who challenge and inspire you,” states Cove. “I feel honored to have had the opportunity to do this with SFIA and this industry. It has been a great run and I look forward to new chapters, both for myself and for SFIA.”

Media Contact:
Lisa Futterman | [email protected]


ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services. For more information, please visit sfia.org.

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