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Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famer, Former NSGA Board Chairman Jack Smith Passes Away

Featured, NSGA News • July 1, 2024


Marty Maciaszek, Director of Communications and Team Dealer Division 
(847) 296-6742, ext. 1260 

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (July 1, 2024) – Jack Smith was a visionary who turned Sports Authority into one of the biggest sporting goods retail brands in the world. Smith also served the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) as Chairman of the Board and was inducted into Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 2016. NSGA was saddened to learn recently of Smith’s passing on March 20 at 88. 

Smith saw Sports Authority grow from one store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1987 to nearly 400 locations in the United States and Japan in 2010. He was a member of the NSGA Board of Directors for more than eight years and was the Board Chairman from 1997-99. 

“Mr. Smith was one of the iconic figures of our industry and he had a phenomenal career in retail,” said Matt Carlson, NSGA President & CEO. “He was a tremendous leader, not only for the companies he worked for, but also for the entire industry through his service on the NSGA Board. It was great to see him honored with his induction into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. 

“Mr. Smith’s loss will be felt by many people and we extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.” 

Smith was raised in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began his storied retail career with Singer Sewing Machines in the early 1960s. He would also work for Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, Jefferson Department Stores and W.R. Grace. 

Smith was the Chief Operating Officer of Herman’s Sporting Goods. He tried unsuccessfully to bring the comprehensive megastore concept that fueled the tremendous growth of Home Depot and Toys “R” Us to the sporting goods industry at Herman’s. He got another opportunity with the backing of a group of venture capitalists to build a sporting goods giant through the concepts of an unparalleled selection, competitive pricing and merchandise always in stock. 

Just 18 months after opening his first Sports Authority, the business had grown to eight stores and Smith sold it for $75 million. He stayed on as CEO for the next five years as Sports Authority grew to 150 locations. He eventually re-acquired the company and in 2010, the business generated over $3.5 billion in annual sales and had 330 stores in the United States. 

Smith created his successful business with people who believed in his mission and by thinking differently, not just in size and price, but in almost every dimension. He was loyal to his employees and prided himself on the fact he frequently visited every store so employees knew what was expected of them. 

In 1994, SportStyle Magazine voted Smith No. 2 among the top 100 Most Influential People in the Sporting Goods Industry. He retired as CEO in 2000 and moved to help other businesses reach the same level of success he achieved. Smith sat on the board of directors for Darden Restaurants, Inc., Fiesta Restaurant Group, Carrols Restaurant Group and Beverages & More. 

One of Smith’s biggest accomplishments was his family as he and his wife Anita of 67 years had four children. Smith was a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan and a big thrill was attending the final games of their 1980 and 2008 World Series championships with his son Howard. Jack was preceded in death by Anita on October 8, 2023 and their children Donna, Robin and Randi. Jack and Anita had 7 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. 

A funeral service was held for Jack Smith on March 24 in Hollywood, Florida. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to be made directly to the Livestrong Foundation at
About the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame 

NSGA created the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 1955 to honor sporting goods pioneers, innovators and leaders, while recognizing and encouraging continued excellence in the industry. Since the first induction in 1956, more than 180 men and women have been inducted. For more information on the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, please visit  

About the National Sporting Goods Association 

Since 1929, the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been the leading voice and go-to resource for the sporting goods industry. NSGA helps the industry grow its businesses through research, advocacy and networking. For more information about membership or NSGA’s products and services, please visit


Board Chairman Jack Smith Sports Authority Herman's Sporting Goods Board of Directors Matt Carlson Hall of Fame Sporting Goods NSGA