Measuring Up

Emily Tipping picture

“I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness. No one ever compares themselves to someone else and comes out even. Nine times out of 10, we compare ourselves to people who are somehow better than us and end up feeling more inadequate.”

—  Jack Canfield, author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series 

While Jack Canfield’s words of warning on comparison are valuable and valid, sometimes it can be a useful exercise. Comparing where you’re at, whether it’s in terms of your personal or professional goals, or your aspirations and ideas for the facilities you operate, with where others are can be a helpful way to start figuring out how to make it happen.  

This month, we’re offering you plenty of baselines for comparison, in the form of our annual State of the Industry Report, now in its 18th year. As always, these pages summarize the results of our extensive 50-question Industry Report survey, sent to readers in January and February of this year. We offer you a glimpse into the overall results, as well as breaking things down according to different types of facilities, from aquatics and parks to schools and colleges, from health clubs and Ys to rec centers and camps (to get those extra tidbits, be sure to check the website for extra content!). 

Knowing the median operating cost for facilities similar to yours can be useful to see how your own facility’s costs measure up. Understanding what kinds of amenities and programming others are offering can help you set new goals for your own renovations or program lineup. And a quick glimpse at what others consider to be top industry challenges can, if nothing else, alleviate a little pain and help you see that you’re not the only one.

Use these pages wisely. Rely on the data here to help you get a general picture of the industry at large. But don’t let the comparisons get you down. Instead, allow them to inspire you to keep pressing onward with your own plans and ideas.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management
[email protected]



Please e-mail all comments, story ideas,
questions, good jokes and ponderances to:
[email protected]
OR send mail to:
Recreation Management, 50 N. Brockway St.,
Suite 4-11, Palatine, IL 60067
OR fax to: 847-963-8745