Back to News

Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famer James L. Easton Passes Away

Featured, NSGA News • December 6, 2023

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (December 6, 2023) – James L. “Jim” Easton was a major figure in ensuring the family name became an iconic brand in the sporting goods industry. Easton, who was inducted in the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 1994, passed away Monday at age 88, according to World Archery. 

Easton was the second-generation owner of the sports equipment company that was started by his father James D. “Doug” Easton, who passed away in 1972 and was inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 1978. Jim Easton followed his father into the sporting goods industry in 1960 and was a significant figure in the sport of archery. 

“The contributions the Easton Family has made to the sporting goods industry have been extraordinary and Jim played a major role in its success,” said Matt Carlson, NSGA President & CEO. “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Easton and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.” 

Easton Diamond Sports was acquired by Rawlings in October 2020. Michael Zlaket, the CEO of Rawlings and Easton Diamond Sports, said the younger Easton left an indelible mark on the archery, baseball and softball industries and the entire sporting goods world. 

“Jim was a one-of-a-kind role model for all who were fortunate to work with him,” Zlaket said. “Jim had high expectations that if you did something, you were to do it right. Details and precision were what separated great companies from good ones. 

“Innovation was always at the forefront and integrity meant everything. These were the values Jim not only embodied, but mandated, and grew to be the backbone of the company. Everyone who worked for Jim learned to do business by these standards. It was the only way to conduct business and it still is.” 

Easton had a fierce devotion to archery and was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 1997. He was a major driver in efforts to grow the sport and make it more spectator-friendly and was one of the first commissioners named to the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles because of his business experience and archery background. He became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1994 and served as vice president from 2002-06. 

Easton introduced a new match play competition format for Olympic archery for the 1984 Games and he developed and supported three archery ranges in the Los Angeles area through the Easton Sports Development Foundation. He was president of World Archery from 1989-2005 and was instrumental in the creation of the Easton Foundations Archery Center of Excellence in Chula Vista, California. 

Easton was also named Executive of the Year by the U.S. Baseball Association in 1986 and in 1989 was named the UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year. He is survived by his wife Phyllis and two children Greg and Lynn and the family plans to hold a private memorial service, according to World Archery. 

World Archery said its flag will be flown at half-mast at the World Archery Excellence Centre, the development hub and elite training facility which was established as part of Jim Easton’s vision to leave a legacy for the sport in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland. 

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 


James L. Easton James D. Easton Michael Zlaket Archery World Archery Sporting Goods Industry Hall of FAme Easton Diamond Sports Olympics Rawlings Sporting Goods Baseball