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SFIA Topline Report Shows Conflicting Sport Participation Trends

Date: 4/11/17

Participation rates within sport categories saw significant changes in 2016, but not in same direction

Silver Spring, MD, April 11, 2017 – 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 IndustryAssociation (SFIA) 2017 Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities Topline Report released today.

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. 

The SFIA Topline Report provides Total, Core and Casual Participation data for 120 sports and activities. In addition, theTopline Report provides one, three and five-year trend analysis by sport category along with detailed assessments of overall Inactivity and "Active to Healthy Levels" benchmarks. The study, published annually, measures physical activities of all Americans aged 6 years and older.

The 2017 Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report is available for download at www.sfia.org/reports. The report is free of charge to all SFIA members and is available for purchase by other interested parties. 

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

About Sports and Fitness Industry Association: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the No. 1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services. For more information, please visit http://www.sfia.org.

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