With some activities experiencing double digit growth and others similarly declining, “there is no single, dominant sports and fitness participation trend in the United States,” according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2017 Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities Topline Report.
Sports including baseball, cheerleading, indoor soccer and team swimming and fitness activities including cross training, aquatic exercise, rowing and stair climbing all experienced significant growth.
In many activities, casual participation rates are rising faster than core rates, suggesting Americans may be sampling more sports while reducing single-minded devotion to any one activity. In some cases, increases in casual participation may be the direct result of sport governing bodies and organizations dedicating efforts to “grow their game” through grass roots outreach and hands-on opportunities.
“This year’s results are hard to summarize. There is good news for several sports, but just as many sports are seeing declines,” said Tom Cove, SFIA President and CEO. “It’s clear we need to continue to do everything we can to engage young people in sports and fitness through fun and healthy experiences.”
“Americans love to try new activities and it’s encouraging to see positive growth rates for such a wide variety of athletic options, but at the same time, reduced levels of core participation have to be a real concern for our industry. It’s important to transform some of today’s casual participants into tomorrow’s core athletes,” Cove added.
Some sports bucked the casual/core trend. In tackle football, for example, core youth participation remained stable while overall participation dropped.
As SFIA noted in past Olympic years, sports prominently featured at the 2016 Rio Olympics seem to inspire Americans to get active. Gymnastics (17 percent), beach/sand volleyball (19 percent), rugby (18 percent) and swimming on a team (27 percent) reflected an Olympic bounce.
Expert analysis of the 2017 Topline Participation Report will take place during the 2017 Participation Topline & Manufacturers’ Sales by Category Report webinar on Thursday, April 20. To register, click here.