Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2019

Youth Sports Participation Holds Steady in 2018

By Dave Ramont

The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been a dependable resource and leading voice for sporting goods dealers and retailers since 1929, and recently it released the 2019 edition of its report on Sports Participation in the United States. The report shows that from 2017 to 2018, overall youth team sports participation for those aged 7 to 17 remained relatively flat (+ 0.3 percent). Participation in tackle football increased by close to 4 percent while youth soccer participation saw a 4 percent decrease in 2018. And of the 57 different sports and activities tracked, 29 showed an increase in female participation of all ages—up from 24 the previous year.

The research publication summarizes participation trends in different segments and categories from the 1990s through 2018. The report offers an easily accessible snapshot for each activity and sport tracked, which allows users to view 10-year participation trends as well as income, age and U.S. geographic information. Lifecycle Demographics, Cross Participation and Single Sport Reports are also offered by NSGA. These expand even further on participation information, providing comprehensive views of the sports and activities being tracked.

"We consistently promote the benefits and enjoyment of sports, and support diversity in participation," said Julie Pitts, research and business development director at NSGA. "As part of that ongoing effort, NSGA is offering an in-depth look at emerging girls' and women's sports at out upcoming Management Conference and Team Dealer Summit."

Among the 10 segments tracked by NSGA, the 2018 results indicate an overall mixed performance. All in all, five segments in 2018 decreased in participation while five segments increased when compared with the prior year. For the 57 sports and recreational activities tracked in the report, the individual year-to-year changes further support mixed results. Participation in 31 activities decreased over 2018 while 26 activities showed an increase. Of the segments that are tracked by NSGA, the only ones experiencing consistent increases over the past three years include Open Water Sports and Outdoor Activities. Other segments have experienced ups and downs during that same period.

Total Participation Points (TPPs) consider both the number of people participating in each sport segment and the number of sports each person is participating in, providing a wider view of participation. The new report shows that the segments experiencing a slight growth in TPPs include Fitness Activities, Open Water Activities, Wheel Sports, Outdoor Activities and Personal Contact Sports. Segments experiencing a slight decline in TPPs include Snow Sports, Indoor Games, Team Sports, Individual Sports and Shooting Sports. For the first time, the 2019 edition also includes participation information about pickleball, which has grown steadily over the past few years.

The NSGA Sports Participation in the U.S. report is the longest running study on sports participation in the United States. Information about the report can be found at

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Dog Parks Still on the Rise - May 2019

USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs - May 2019

IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club - May 2019

New Program Aims to Grow Pickleball & Tennis - May 2019

IHRSA Reports on Health Club Compensation - April 2019

Grant Funding Brings Parks Closer to People in 10 Cities - April 2019

Note & Float Program Reaches Lifesaving Milestone - April 2019

Fund Established to Assist Aspiring Women Coaches - April 2019

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program - April 2019

NRPA Offers Play Space Grants - March 2019

Smarter Lifeguard Management - March 2019

U.S. Soccer Foundation Aims to Boost Female Participation - March 2019

In Oregon, Outdoor Recreation Saves $1.4 Billion in Healthcare Costs - March 2019

Survey: Communities Should Support Pollinators - February 2019

NSPF, APSP Unite to Form Pool & Hot Tub Alliance - February 2019

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention - February 2019

Senior Living Continues Shift Toward Wellness - February 2019

Partnership Aims to Expand Play Opportunities - January 2019

Grant Funds Help Educate Pool Operators - January 2019

NFL Foundation Grants Boost Local Football Fields - January 2019

Leaders Recognized for Advancing Outdoor Recreation - January 2019

Goldfish Swim School Sponsors USA Swimming Foundation - December 2018

Physical Activity for Kids Gets Low Grade - December 2018

New Law Helps Sports Medicine Professionals & Athletes - December 2018

Outdoor Recreation Adds Billions to U.S. Economy - November 2018

Nearly $1 Million in Pool Grants Awarded - November 2018

Report: One in Four Americans Use a Health Club - November 2018

New Active Transportation Program Aims to Boost Health & Environment - November 2018

Foundation Celebrates Sports Innovations - October 2018

Grant Awarded to Chattanooga Nature Play Area - October 2018

Obesity Continues to Challenge America's Health - October 2018

Grant Program Funds Keep America Beautiful Initiatives - October 2018

Nation's Pediatricians Emphasize Power of Play - October 2018

Step Into Swim Continues to Create New Swimmers - September 2018

Pickleball Benefits Older Adults - September 2018

NSPF Endorses MAHC Adoption - September 2018

Cities Spend More on Public Parks in 2018 - September 2018

Be Ready for Back-to-School Sports - August 2018

NRPA, Pool Safely Partner on Water & Recreation Safety - August 2018

States Make Progress Toward Active Transportation - August 2018

IHRSA Briefing Looks at Club Employees vs. Contractors - August 2018

ACSM & Wellcoaches Expand Offerings for Fitness Pros - July 2018

Grants Help Local Trail Projects - July 2018

Grant to Boost Meals & Nutrition for Kids - July 2018

Trust for Public Land Releases ParkServe Database - July 2018

CPSC Asks for Vigilance to Prevent Child Drowning - July 2018

TPL Earns NEA Grant to Explore Creative Placemaking - June 2018

High Visa Denial Rates Could Affect Pools - June 2018

Make a Splash Campaign Teaches Millions to Swim - June 2018

Communities Can Earn Grants for Dog Park Development - June 2018