SFIA Reports Uptick in Sports & Fitness Participation

Every one of the seven major sport and fitness physical activity categories showed increased year-over-year rates of participation, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Topline Participation Report. 

The 2024 Topline Report is considered the sports and fitness industry’s essential reference document for participation, tracking rates of Americans aged 6 and older across 124 different sports, fitness and outdoor activities, and includes 10-year trend analyses by activity category, data deep-dives into inactivity and surveys of Americans’ aspirations to take on new activities in 2023.

Winter Sports, Team Sports, Racquet Sports, and Water Sports all grew by more than 9% last year. Winter sports, fueled by favorable weather conditions, led with 22% growth over 2022, and Team Sports measured 10.8% growth. Notably, in the Team Sports category, 20 of the 24 sports tracked by SFIA showed increases, whereas only five showed increases the previous year. This reflects an overall trend in the United States of strong demand for team sports opportunities, following the forced isolation and breakup of teams during the pandemic period in 2020. The number of team sports participants has now exceeded pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels from 2019.

Trend analysis from this report also highlights the fitness category, where many health club-based activities, such as Treadmill, Stair-Climbing, Rowing Machine and most class-based fitness activities, such as Barre, Pilates and Yoga, saw good gains in participation in 2023.

For the third year in a row, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, having grown 51.8% from 2022 to 2023, and an incredible 223.5% in three years. This contributed to the overall very healthy participation trends in Racquet Sports, which notably reflect continued robust participation numbers from tennis as well.

“These participation numbers are positive for the country and for our industry,” said Tom Cove, president and CEO, SFIA. “Frankly, they are not a surprise, as we know Americans are valuing and pursuing active lifestyles post-pandemic. Our industry’s role now is to fulfill that interest with positive sports and fitness experiences and quality, innovative and inspiring products.”

In 2023, 242 million Americans, or 78.8% of Americans, participated in an activity one or more times, a 2.2% increase from last year. The number of people who have participated in an activity has increased every single year for a milestone 10 years, growing by 5 million in 2023. Inactivity also decreased to its lowest number since SFIA began tracking the metric – 21.2% or 64.9 million people reported doing none of the 124 activities at least once. The Topline Report also explores Inactivity by income – showing increased rates of inactivity correlated to decreased family income levels, an area that calls out for greater attention.