Supplement Feature - July 2009
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Smart Start

What You Need to Know About Indoor Sports Design

By Kelli Anderson

Niche Sports on the Rise
But Traditional Sports Still Strong

When considering how to outfit your facility, it's important to recognize that while traditional team sports—basketball, baseball and soccer—still attract the most team sports participants, niche sports are showing strong growth patterns. So says the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's annual participation study on team sports for 2008.

According to SGMA, activities like lacrosse, paintball and cheerleading have been showing significant growth since 2000. Other niche sports that have seen respectable gains in participation include ultimate Frisbee, rugby, field hockey and all forms of volleyball.

SGMA also reported on another continuing trend in team sports: Participation in sanctioned or supervised leagues is strong, while there has been a decline in the number of people playing casual or pickup games.

Here are some other nuggets of information from the report:

  • Basketball, the most popular team sport, also can brag that more than half of those playing it are considered frequent participants. In other words, they play 25 times or more a year.
  • 73 percent of court volleyball players age 17 or younger are girls.
  • Slow-pitch softball has just about as many 18- to 34-year-olds playing (3.4 million) as players over the age of 35 (3.61 million).
  • Since the 2000-2001 school year, there have been more women soccer players at the collegiate level than men.
  • Two-thirds of indoor soccer players also play soccer outside.
  • There has been a 14 percent increase in participation in varsity high school baseball since 1990-91.
  • Nearly half of all field hockey participants play it at school.
  • Participation in lacrosse at the high school varsity level has risen more than 370 percent since 1990.
  • Rugby is one of the most popular athletic club sports on U.S. college campuses, and is seeing rapid growth at the high school level.
  • Track and field is the second-most popular sport for girls in high school and college, after soccer.

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