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Core Participation Grows in Majority of Team Sports According to Latest SFIA U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report

Date: 1/15/14

Overall Participation on the Decline

SILVER SPRING, MD – January 15, 2014 – 15 of 24 teams sports grew in core participation, according to the latest U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report published by SFIA. Core participants are those who participate in a sport on a regular basis (definitions vary by sport). At the same time, traditional team sports such as football, baseball, and basketball saw declines.

“Core participants are the driving force when it comes to the purchasing of sports and fitness product,” said VJ Mayor, SFIA’s Director of Communications & Research. “Increased core participants means more consumers inclined to buy higher-end product they feel makes them better while they’re on the field, court, or rink.”

Compared to 2011, which saw an increase in only 5 of the 24 sports, the surge in core participation in the most current U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report is proof of the growing trend of specialization in team sports. While there are more quality participants (core), the report also reveals the decrease in overall (casual) team sports participants over the last five years. Since 2008, team sports have lost 16.1 million participants or 11.1% of all team participants, measured by those who played at least once a year.

Football (tackle, flag, and touch), baseball, and basketball have been the three sports most affected by the loss of overall participants the past five years. Growth sectors have been seen in non-traditional sports. Notably, the largest sectors with positive growth since 2008 are Gymnastics (5.1 million participants in 2012), Ultimate Frisbee (5.1 million), Indoor Soccer (4.6 million) and Beach Volleyball (4.5 million).

“The degradation of the casual team sports participant cannot be ignored,” said Mayor. “Casual participation is the gateway to more core participants. We have already begun to see a decline in core participation among traditional team sports over the last five years which is alarming. The drop could be influenced by several factors including increased single sport specialization, overuse injury, athlete burnout, safety concerns, and the marginalization of the recreation player. Fortunately, the industry is aware of the magnitude of the issue and is coalescing to address it with initiatives like PHIT America and a participation initiative borne out of the SFIA Industry Leaders Summit.”

The SFIA U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report provides an in-depth analysis on both the casual and core team sports participant by looking at key demographic data such as age, gender, and income. In addition to exploring casual and core participants, the report revisits childhood participation, fandom in team sports, and churn rate, which was first seen in the 2010 report.

Click here to download the 2013 SFIA U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report.


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