THE FOUNDATION OF MY CAREER IN TENNIS:

PHYSICAL FITNESS

09/01/2014
WELLNESS
Stan Smith

While many people remember the tennis tournaments and championships that I have won in my playing career, it’s important to realize that the foundation for my success was my lifelong commitment to being physically fit. I also want to be remembered for displays of sportsmanship that I tried to bring to the profession of being a tennis playing professional.

It goes without saying that one of the keys to my success in tennis has been my ongoing commitment to physical fitness. 

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Without it, my career would not have been successful. I won many matches simply because I had more staying power at the end of a match. At the end of five-set match in a Grand Slam event, I always had “gas in the tank.”

While I am no longer traveling the world playing against the finest tennis players on the planet, my commitment to physical fitness and good health remains strong. To be honest, the foundation for my physical fitness started in school with daily physical education (P.E.). And, frankly, that’s one of the disappointing aspects of today’s education system in the U.S., which seems to have forgotten that daily, quality P.E. is as important for children in kindergarten as it is for seniors in high school.

A number of recent studies in the U.S. and around the world support the positive connection between P.E. in schools and academic success in the classroom. I have been a big believer in the importance of exposing children to physical activity during the school day. If you teach a child to read in school, they will read for the rest of their lives. And, if you teach a child how to be active in school, they will be active for the rest of their lives.

Active Bodies Produce Active Minds And Keep You Healthy

That’s why I am pleased to see that PHIT America (www.phitamerica.org) is dedicated to “Getting America Moving,” which will help reverse America’s “inactivity pandemic.” Had I been as inactive as today’s children are in this country, I never would have enjoyed a successful career in tennis. And, I remain very active in the game of tennis to this day!

On a few occasions in recent years, I have traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in a national lobbying effort known as National Health Through Fitness Day. The purpose of this advocacy effort is to meet with members of Congress — U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators — and their staffers to talk about the need for federal legislation to help Get America Moving. This annual lobby effort — spearheaded by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and PHIT America — attracts leaders and athletes from all realms of the sports, health, fitness and exercise industry.

While on Capitol Hill I have helped lobby Congress for passage of two legislative initiatives that will help all Americans become more physically fit:

  1. Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Bill, which provides grants to school districts and community-based organizations to support innovative physical education and activity methods;
  2. PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act, would 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.

While walking the halls of Congress, I addressed this issue of physical inactivity and why a lifestyle complemented by fitness and exercise is the best route to follow for a long, positive and productive life.

While on Capitol Hill, I encouraged America’s legislative leaders to recognize the importance of a continued emphasis on more physical education in America’s schools. It’s a philosophy that complements my own attitude about physical fitness and health.

It’s worth noting that anybody with access to a computer or a smart phone can join me by participating in the same lobbying process and help generate support for PEP and PHIT.

You simply access www.phitamerica.org, click on the red Advocate icon, and then follow the prompt which asks for your zip code and then you click submit. Then, an electronic letter of support for PEP and PHIT will be sent to your local member of congress in the U.S. House of Representatives and your state’s two U.S. Senators.

The need for federal legislation to encourage more P.E. in our schools would not be necessary if school districts would make an immediate decision to bring back daily, quality P.E. for all school children in all grades in all school districts in America.

This is a critical issue because of the following:

  1. Military leaders in the U.S. are concerned about the fitness levels of future troops;
  2. Many members of the medical community say that “sitting is the new smoking,”
  3. It’s well known that physical activity benefits academic performance.

From my perspective, it makes all the sense in the world to bring back daily P.E. to our schools — even it’s just for the health of it! As leaders and decision makers in the education system, you have the opportunity to be catalysts of change that will benefit the minds and bodies of all young Americans, and the future of this country. It all begins with physical fitness.

Let’s give all young Americans the chance to enjoy the benefits of physical activity. And, don’t forget, nobody sweats on the Internet

About Stan Smith

Was the number one player in the world in 1971 and 1972. He was the United States’ top-ranked player in 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Won the U.S. Open in 1971 and Wimbledon in 1972. In his career, he has won 39 singles titles. He also represented his country in the Davis Cup for 10 years, helping to win the coveted championship seven times.

Won 61 doubles crowns during his successful career, most of those with his long-time playing partner Bob Lutz.

Won the 35-and-over title at Wimbledon in 1984 and 1985 and at the U.S. Open in 1984. We won the 55-and-over title at the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2004. He was the coach of the 2000 U.S. Olympic tennis team in Sydney.

Was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2011, he became the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Was director of coaching for the USTA Player Development Program from 1986-1994 and was the associate director of player development for the USTA from 1995-1998.

Was the co-founder and is currently the manager of the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy at Sea Pines Resort, which started in 2002. He has also been the touring tennis pro for Sea Pines since 1971.

Currently serves as chairman of Stan Smith Events where he works with corporations to help them entertain their clients around major sporting events.

Member of the USPTA and PTR. He speaks periodically for the USTA to juniors and adult players.

Ambassador for Prince from 1991-2013 and Adidas since 1971, representing the brands at USTA, USPTA, ITA and other tennis seminars and events.

Member of the Heritage Classic Foundation whose major function is to raise funds for the community through the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament. He serves as the charity committee chairman.

Stan and his wife Margie reside in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and have four children. He and his wife have been very involved in the Hilton Head Boys and Girls Club.
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Issue 18.3 | Winter/Spring 2017

Southeast Education Network

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