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Feature Article - June 2016

2016 State of the Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


Who Are You?

As with the readership of Recreation Management, survey respondents largely represent the higher levels of their organizations. More than one-third (34.4 percent) of respondents said their job title was "director." Another 20.8 percent are in administration management, which includes such titles as administrator, manager and superintendent. Another 15.5 percent of respondents are operations/facility managers, holding such titles as operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. Some 11.2 percent of respondents are in program and activity administration, with titles such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach or instructor. Another 8.1 percent of respondents said they are the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their organization. Just 2.5 percent of respondents said they are faculty or teachers. Less than one in 100 (0.5 percent) of respondents are in service roles, including planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 6.9 percent of respondents said they have an "other" role in their organization.

Considering so many respondents are representative of higher levels of career achievement, it should come as no surprise that the majority of respondents have a great deal of experience on the job and in their industry. On average, respondents have 11.9 years in their current positions, and 22 years of experience in the recreation, sports and fitness industry.

Respondents in 2016 were most likely to report in from the Midwest, with some 31.2 percent of all respondents indicating they were from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin. (See Figure 1.)

The second largest region in terms of survey representation was the West, with 21.4 percent of respondents, a slight increase from 2015. This includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The Northeast was represented by 17.6 percent of respondents in 2016, also up slightly from 2015, causing this region to leap ahead of the South Atlantic states' former position as the third largest region in terms of representation. The Northeast includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

There were fewer respondents in 2016 from the South Atlantic region than in previous years. Some 16.8 percent of this year's respondents were from Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. This is a drop from 2015, when 18.7 percent of respondents were from the South Atlantic.

The South Central states also saw a slight decline in representation, with 12.1 percent of 2016 respondents calling this area home. This region is represented by Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, just 1 percent of the survey respondents reported that they were from outside the United States.

Slightly more respondents in 2016 were from suburban communities, compared with 2015, while fewer were from rural and urban areas. Some 45.2 percent of respondents in 2016 were from suburban communities, compared with 42.3 percent in 2015. Another third (33.6 percent) were from rural areas, and 21.1 percent were from urban communities. (See Figure 2.)

On average, the facilities, districts and departments covered by the Industry Report survey serve a population of 83,200 people. (See Figure 3.) That said, more than two-thirds of respondents said their facilities reach an average of 50,000 or fewer people. Some 33.5 percent of respondents serve a population of less than 10,000, while another 34.1 percent serve a population of 10,000 to 49,999. Another 13 percent serve a population between 50,000 and 99,999. Some 8.7 percent said their facility's population is between 100,000 and 199,999. Finally, 10.7 percent said they serve a population of 200,000 or more.

The largest population served by any particular facility type was found among parks and recreation respondents, who said they serve 105,300 on average. They were followed by community or private sports and recreation centers, at 81,100; YMCAs, at 66,900; and health clubs, with 62,900. The smallest average population served were found among schools and school districts (18,900) and colleges and universities (33,100).

As in past years, the largest number of respondents said they work for public organizations. Two-thirds (66.6 percent) of survey respondents are with public organizations, such as parks and recreation departments, public schools or public universities. (See Figure 4.) They were followed by those who work for private, nonprofit organizations. Some 21.4 percent of respondents fall into this category, which includes such facilities as YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs. Finally, 11.3 percent of respondents indicated they were with private for-profit organizations, such as health clubs or resorts.