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Out of Bounds?

Fitness Council Head Questioned Over Vending-Industry Appearance

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Lynn Swann, the former star wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct by several advocacy groups.

Lynn Swann at the Jan. 13 press conference on children's fitness.
Lynn Swann at the Jan. 13 press conference on children's fitness.
—Dennis Cook/AP

They want Mr. Swann to resign as the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for being paid to appear at a press conference sponsored by the vending-machine industry.

“It is unseemly to have the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness act as a paid shill for the junk-food industry,” Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a Jan. 13 press release.

“President Bush should replace Mr. Swann with someone whose commitment to children’s well-being is strong enough to say no to the junk-food industry’s money,” said Allen Kanner of the Washington-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

But Jackie M. Clark, a spokeswoman for the National Automatic Merchandising Association, called the attacks “silly.”

“Lynn Swann is an ambassador, if you will, for being physically active and physically fit,” said Ms. Clark, whose group, headquartered in Chicago, sponsored the event. “We thought he would be perfect to help communicate this message to our kids.”

The Jan. 13 press conference unveiled the “Balanced for Life” campaign, which aims to teach children about nutrition and physical fitness. Ms. Clark confirmed that Mr. Swann was paid for his appearance, but she didn’t know how much.

“Physical activity should not be an elective—it should be part of our daily lifestyle,” Mr. Swann, who played in four Super Bowl games and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, was quoted as saying at the event.

Mr. Swann, whose position on the fitness council is unpaid, has his own consulting firm based in Sewickley, Pa., and works as a commentator for ABC Sports. He’s said to be considering a run for governor of Pennsylvania next year. He could not be reached for comment last week.

Vol. 24, Issue 20, Page 28

Published in Print: January 26, 2005, as Out of Bounds?

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