Gene McCarthy, Group President and CEO of ASICS America Corporation, based in Irvine, California, is a recognized leader in the sporting goods and footwear and apparel industries, with more than 30 years of executive experience. Most recently, he served as President of Merrill, managing all aspects of its worldwide business. Previously, he was Senior Vice President of footwear for Under Armour, and held top positions at Nike, Reebok, and the
Timberland Company where he served as Co-President. He also served as Senior Vice President of Global Footwear at Reebok, where he led product-marketing, design, development and advanced concepts. McCarthy spent 21 years at Nike, most notably as the Global Director of Sales and Retail Marketing for the Jordan Brand. A native New Yorker, he graduated from Fordham University where he was an NCAA Division One Track and Field All-American. He was also a semi-finalist in the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials.
What’s the state of physical activity in schools these days?
It’s a serious, major issue that needs to be addressed. Based on the “INACTIVITY PANDEMIC” REPORT 2017 released by PHIT America, a non-profit campaign focused on overcoming the severe ramifications of the Inactivity Pandemic, kids’ inactivity trends are becoming a big problem. Both age groups (6 to 12 and 13 to 17) have reported a steady decline in activity since 2011. This is a “time bomb” for the nation’s healthcare system, as well as for the sports and fitness industry.
Why is physical activity during the school day so important?
It’s very important because there’s a correlation between being active and an increase in academic performance. Studies have shown a negative impact on overall health and academic performance in American children as they’ve become more sedentary.
We need to reverse this trend.
ASICS recently announced that it had signed on as one of PHIT America’s partners. Remind us about PHIT America, if you would … describe the movement.
The PHIT America has three strategic approaches—education, supporting school-based activity programs, and advocacy—that will get Americans, especially our youth, more active, fit, and healthy.
One of our most recent partnership activations with PHIT was this past June. Leading up to Global Running Day, a celebration of the sport of running, which took place on June 7th this year, ASICS challenged nationwide participants to run a total of 60 minutes using the popular RunKeeper app. For each completed challenge, ASICS donated $1 to PHIT America, for a total contribution of $50,000 in celebration of this major event that dates back to 2009.
We also continue to support many of PHIT America’s ongoing efforts in schools all year round.
Why has ASICS made this commitment? Why is the company uniquely qualified to make a difference?
ASICS is dedicated to promoting and driving participation in sports and getting people to move. We have and always will play a central role in our consumers’ personal fitness journey. This is perfectly aligned with the mission of PHIT America and ultimately made them a great partner for our brand.
How do your goals, and those of PHIT America coincide? What’s the upside for both?
ASICS and PHIT America are aligned in the mission to aid in personal improvement through fitness. ASICS is actually an acronym derived from the Latin phrase anima sanain corporesano, which means, “a sound mind in a sound body.”
By working together, we can affect change across a broad and widespread demographic by educating the masses on the importance of physical activity, while inspiring both athletes and non-athletes to be the best version of themselves.
Please tell us about the PHIT America GO Grants, and how they work.
PHIT America GO! Grants are awarded to school P.E. programs by PHIT America to provide opportunities through sports and fitness to the schools and communities they serve. In the past two years, almost 350 PHIT America GO! Grants have been awarded nationally—helping more than 175,000 school children get physically active by giving them the gear, programming, or training they need.
What other efforts has ASICS been making when it comes to encouraging kids—and adults—to become more active?
ASICS introduced the ASICS Extra Mile campaign last year, which encouraged consumers to create positive change by adding an “Extra Mile” to their workouts. The campaign engaged and inspired people at all levels of physical fitness, and from diverse backgrounds, to band together for a common cause.
The campaign generated a total donation of more than $1.5 million worth of shoes to benefit Girls on the Run International, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles for young girls.
Also, ASICS recently launched a global brand refresh with the aim of getting the world moving one city at a time. The hero brand message, I MOVE ME, taps into ASICS’ 70-year philosophy that emphasizes the correlation between a sound mind and a sound body. It has been designed to inspire people of all ages and abilities to move more, so they enjoy the physical and mental benefits of exercise.
In addition, the partnership brings further support to PHIT America as it encourages Congress to pass the PHIT Act. It will change current federal tax law to allow for the deduction or use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness, and other physical activities—and a better life.