Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

SFIA Products and Services

Monitoring Your Efforts To Grow Your Sport

Date: 9/9/09

JUPITER, FLORIDA – September 9, 2009 – Just about everyone that has ever taken a marketing course in college knows the saying, “you can’t monitor what you can’t measure.”  Over the years, SGMA Research has expanded on this statement by adding, “you can’t measure what you can’t quantify.”

Every year, associations and companies involved in growing their respective sport or activity talk about their ongoing efforts and strategies to accomplish this objective.  That begs the question: “How can you evaluate the success of these efforts and quantify them in some way?”  Each year, SGMA Research conducts the industry’s Sports & Fitness Participation Study.  This is one place where you can easily measure the success or failure of these efforts to grow your sport.  Another place, of course, is sales.  One might make the assumption that if sales are up in a respective sport or activity, then participation must be increasing in one form or another.  We all know there are too many factors that go into this situation to make a blanket statement of that nature.

One way that fits the criteria of being measurable and also quantifiable is to look at the trends for first-time participation.  The key question to ask is this:  “Are my efforts to grow my sport capturing new participants at a higher rate than the year before?”  Again, go to SGMA’s annual Sports & Fitness Participation Study to help us answer that question.  The chart below looks at the top-trending sports from the standpoint of growing the number of first-time participants. This is just a partial list.  The entire list is available.  

First Time Participation

07-08 Change




Triathlon (Traditional/Road) 14.2%
Kayaking (Sea/Touring) 9.9%
Adventure Racing 8.0%
Roller Hockey 7.6%
BMX Bicycling 6.6%
Boxing 6.0%
Lacrosse 4.7%
Aerobics (Step) 3.7%
Wakeboarding 3.6%
Climbing (Sport/Indoor/Boulder) 3.4%
Ice Hockey 2.3%
Volleyball (Beach) 2.1%
Kayaking (White Water) 2.0%
Football (Tackle) 1.9%
Aerobics (High Impact) 1.8%
Shooting (Sport Clays) 1.7%
Climbing (Traditional/Ice/Mountaineering) 1.5%
Bicycling (Mountain/Non-Paved Surface) 1.3%
Baseball 1.3%
Badminton 1.3%
Hunting (Handgun) 1.2%
Fishing (Saltwater) 1.1%
Stationary Cycling (Spinning) 1.0%
Cardio Kickboxing 1.0%

If you want to see the entire list of sports and activities, then please contact Neil Schwartz at neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.

Again, you can’t monitor what you can’t measure and you can’t measure what you can’t quantify.  He is a definitive way to quantify, measure and monitor the results of your efforts to grow your respective sport or activity with respect to growing the number of first-time participants.

First-time participation is just one aspect of grassroots sports participation that will be covered in the upcoming Grassroots Sports Participation in America study that is being conducted by SGMA Research this coming fall.  The grassroots study will go deep into the key motivators why people choose a particular sport, stay with it over time, and then drop out.  If you would like to learn more about this study, please contact Neil Schwartz of SGMA Research at 561.350.5502 or neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.

SGMA Research is the exclusive provider of research and analysis for SGMA.  Current studies include:

  • Annual Sports & Fitness 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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