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Feature Article - June 2018

2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look At What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


About the Respondents

Respondents to the survey represent a variety of positions within their organizations, with a majority employed in higher-level positions. More than one-third (36.1 percent) of respondents said their job title was "director," up from 32.7 percent in 2017. Nearly one-fifth (19.7 percent) are in administration and management positions, including titles such as administrator, manager and superintendent. A similar number (18.2 percent) of respondents are operations/facility managers, with titles including operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. Some 9.4 percent of respondents are in program and activity administration roles, including activity and program directors, managers, coordinators, specialists, coaches and instructors. Another 7.3 percent of respondents said they are the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their organization. Some 2.4 percent of respondents are faculty or teachers. Just 0.4 percent of respondents are in service roles, including planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 6.5 percent of respondents said they have "other" job titles in their organization.

With so many respondents representing career-level positions in the recreation, sports and fitness industry, it comes as no surprise that they rack up a lot of experience, both in their current positions and in the industry, in general. On average, respondents have held their current jobs for 11.2 years, and have an average of 21.3 years of experience in the recreation, sports and fitness industry.

The largest number of respondents in 2018 are from the Midwest, with nearly one-third (31.9 percent) of respondents. (See Figure 1.) This includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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

The Northeast is home to 18 percent of survey respondents. This includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Some 16.5 percent of respondents said they are from the South Atlantic states, down from 20.2 percent in 2017. The South Atlantic includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Finally, the South Central region is represented by 12.1 percent of respondents. This region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, just 0.1 percent of survey respondents said they are from outside the United States.

As is generally the case, the largest percentage of respondents said they are from suburban communities. Some 43.4 percent of respondents said they call the suburbs home. More than one-third (35.7 percent) said they are from rural communities, and 20.9 percent are from urban communities. (See Figure 2.)

On average, the districts, departments, facilities and organizations covered by the Industry Report survey serve a population of 83,730 people. (See Figure 3.) Well over two-thirds of respondents (68.4 percent) said their facilities reach an average of 50,000 or fewer people, and more than a third (34.5 percent) reach fewer than 10,000. Another 13.7 percent of respondents said they serve a population of between 50,000 and 99,999 people. Some 7.1 percent said their facilities reach an average population between 100,000 and 199,000. Finally, 10.8 percent said they reach a population of 200,000 or more.


Respondents from camp facilities reach the largest populations with their facilities, serving an average of 104,200. They were followed by parks and recreation respondents, with an average population size of 94,710; Ys, with 77,080; and health clubs, with 73,530. The smallest-sized audiences are found among schools and school districts (24,490) and colleges and universities (43,910).

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