Feature Article - June 2019
Find a printable version here

2019 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


Who Are You? Survey Says…

As always, survey respondents serve various functions and in a variety of roles within their organizations, with a majority working in higher-level positions. More than one-third (34 percent) said their job title was "director," down slightly from 36.1 percent in 2018. More than one-fifth (21.7 percent) are in administration and management positions, such as administrator, manager or superintendent. Another 15.9 percent work in operations and facility management, with titles including operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. Some 12.3 percent of respondents are in program and activity administration roles, such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach and instructor. Some 6.1 percent of respondents said they are either the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their organization. Another 1.8 percent are faculty or teachers, while 0.6 percent are in services, such as planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 7.6 percent of respondents said they hold "other" titles in their organization.

Considering that so many respondents hold high-level positions in the recreation, sports and fitness industry, it is not at all surprising that they have a lot of experience under their belts, both in their current positions, as well as in the industry. On average, respondents have been in their current jobs for 10.8 years, and have an average of 21.2 years of experience in the recreation, sports and fitness industry.

The largest number of respondents in 2019 were from the Midwest, with 28.8 percent of 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 22.8 percent. This includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The South Atlantic is home to 18.8 percent of survey respondents. This includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Some 16.5 percent of respondents said they are from the Northeast, including the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Some 13 percent of respondents said they were from the South Central region, which 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.

Similar to past years' surveys, the largest percentage of respondents in 2019 said they are from suburban communities. Some 43.2 percent of respondents call the suburbs home. Around one-third (33.2 percent) said they are from rural areas, and another 23.6 percent are from urban communities. (See Figure 2.)

On average, the departments, facilities and organizations represented in the Industry Report serve a population of 92,030 people. (See Figure 3.) Some 63.9 percent of respondents said their facilities reach an average population of 50,000 or fewer people, and more than three in 10 (30.9 percent) said they reach fewer than 10,000. Another 15.7 percent of respondents said they serve a population of 50,000 to 99,999 people. Some 9.9 percent said their facilities reach an average population of between 100,000 and 199,999 people. Finally, 10.5 percent of respondents said they reach a population of 200,000 or more.