Feature Article - June 2010
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A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

Tough Turf

Respondents from colleges and universities were the most likely to indicate that their facilities included synthetic turf sports fields. Nearly one-third (32.2 percent) said they had synthetic turf fields. They also were the most likely to report that they had plans to add more synthetic turf fields over the next three years. Among college respondents who have plans to add any features to their facilities within the next three years, 34.1 percent are planning to add synthetic turf fields.

Synthetic turf can provide many advantages, including extended hours of play, as well as longer seasons. They are popular in areas where space is at a premium, such as the Northeast, as well as in the sunbelt, where the summer sun withers grass, making fields less safe and less playable. In fact, in the Northeast, 21 percent of respondents who have plans to add features in the next three years are planning synthetic turf fields. And, 20.9 percent of those in the South Atlantic states said they had plans for synthetic turf.


Programming offered at the facilities of respondents from colleges and universities differs from the across-the-board results, reflecting the campus culture and the lifestyle desired by college students. In many ways, campus programming matches the programming found in health clubs most closely. The most prominent programs currently included by college and university respondents include:

  1. Fitness programs
  2. Mind-body/balance programs like yoga, tai chi and pilates
  3. Educational programs
  4. Sports tournaments or races
  5. Adult sports teams
  6. Individual sports activities like running clubs, swim clubs, etc.
  7. Personal training
  8. Swimming programming
  9. Day camps and summer camps
  10. Aquatic exercise programs
While college and university respondents were similar to across-the-board responses in terms of their top planned program addition—fitness programs—from there they differ quite a bit. Overall, 29 percent of college and university respondents said they had plans to add more programming options in the next three years. Their top picks were:
  1. Fitness programs (holding at No. 1, the same position it held last year)
  2. Mind-body/balance programs (up from No. 3)
  3. Personal training (up from No. 4)
  4. Aquatic exercise programs (up from No. 8)
  5. Nutrition/diet counseling (same position as last year)
  6. Individual sports activities (up from No. 7)
  7. Educational programs (down from No. 2)
  8. Adult sports teams (not included in last year's top 10)
  9. Active older adult programs (not included last year)
  10. Climbing programs (not included last year)

A few programs that appeared in the top 10 planned programs in 2009 were not on this year's list. These include day camps and summer camps; sport training; and sports tournaments and races.