Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

SFIA Products and Services

Rate of New Participants Says A Lot About Your Sport

Date: 8/5/09

JUPITER, FLORIDA – August 5, 2009 – There are many factors that go into the Sports & Fitness Participation Study that is produced every year by SGMA Research.  While most people tend to focus their attention towards the topline growth numbers, they rarely focus on the underlying variables causing the changes in the participation numbers. What really goes into creating the SGMA's Sports & Fitness Participation Study?

The sports participation numbers (X) are essentially made up of three pieces.  How many new people take up a sport or activity every year (A)?  How many stay with it (B)?  And, finally, how many leave (C)?  It is a simple formula: X= (A + B) - C.

First-time participation is the first variable of participation that we will look at this week.    Below is a small sample of various sports and activities along with their percentage of new participants as it relates to the total participation for that sport or activity.   


New Participation Rate



Stationary Cycling (Spinning)


Flag Football


Tackle Football


Aquatic Exercise




Court Volleyball


Triathlon (Traditional)


Walking for Fitness




If you want to see where your specific sport or activity stacks up just send an email to: neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.

These numbers really represent just one of the variables that go into the formula that makes up sports participation.  In addition, it can be dangerous to just look at percentages alone.  This analysis can present a distorted story when you look at sports or activities with a small base of participants.   When it really starts to get interesting is when you consider the “churn rate” or the percentage of people that leave a particular sport every year.  This provides a fuller understanding of participation and we will address this in next week’s SGMA Research piece in SGMA’s In Brief.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

The SGMA’s annual Sports & Fitness Participation Study is conducted using a sample of 40,000+ Americans.  The study collects detailed demographic and lifestyle data on participants in 117 sports and related activities.  If you would like to see a more detailed report for your specific sport, contact Neil Schwartz at SGMA Research (561.427.0647 or  neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com).

  • SGMA Research is the exclusive provider research and analysis for SGMA.  Current studies include:
  • Annual Sports Participation Study
  • Individual Sport Reports
  • State of the Industry Report
  • Industry Shipments Report 

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA Research, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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