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

Feature Story

September 2021

Despite Pandemic, Sports & Fitness Participation Grew, Says SFIA

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has released its 2021 State of the Industry Report, an in-depth analysis of the trends and issues affecting the sports and fitness industry, including participation, economy and industry environment for 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unique challenges to the sports and fitness world. Even in the worst of recessions, the industry has never experienced anything like the unprecedented, immediate global shutdown of retail, operations, workplaces, travel, and sports and fitness facilities. Following the initial shock, the industry pivoted, and in turn, persevered, adapting to focus on ecommerce and responding to the demand for new products, such as home fitness and cycling products.

Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, the overall number of sports and fitness participants in the United States still saw an increase, with a participation rate of 75.6%--the highest seen over the past six years, with inactivity dropping by 2.4%, with the trend leaning toward activities that were more favorable to participate in during the pandemic.

"The pandemic changed the way of life for so many Americans, and especially the way that we stay mentally and physically healthy—leading a lot of Americans to take up being physically active as a way to cope, adapting to the pandemic by participating in 'COVID-acceptable' activities," said Tom Cove, president and CEO, SFIA.

Since the start of the pandemic, the sports and fitness industry outperformed other sectors of the U.S. economy. Despite COVID restrictions, sporting goods sales overall were able to recover to a small, but positive, growth rate of 0.6%. While the sporting goods industry and GDP almost always trend in the same direction, in 2020, the industry grew while the overall economy saw a 3.5% hit. This hit to the GDP was greater than the impact of the stock market crash in 2009, when the sporting goods industry contracted by more than 4%. 2018 was the only year in the past decade besides 2020 where GDP grew faster than sporting goods.

Additionally, almost two-thirds of businesses expect sales to recover to at least pre-COVID predictions by the end of 2021, and 73% of businesses predict a strong future for the sports industry, substantially higher than in 2018 and 2019. While the top industry concerns are product sourcing and material cost/availability, businesses will continue to rely heavily on online sales in 2021.

'Even during such a unique time, the sports and fitness industry was able to adapt and persevere, with more capabilities to be physically active from our own homes and the use of digital tools to connect, partnered with the ability to participate in socially distanced outdoor activities," Cove said. "The increase we saw in participation has led to more industry optimism for the rest of 2021 and 2022—and the industry is primed to respond."

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Partnerships Between Parks & Schools Provide More Equitable Access - September 2021

$500,000 in Grants Awarded for Water-Inspired Play Spaces - September 2021

Leading Organizations Endorse Children's Bill of Rights in Sports - August 2021

Screentime Up, Mental & Physical Fitness Down, Says New Study - August 2021

The Great American Outdoors Act, One Year Later - August 2021

IHRSA Foundation Digs Into the New Fitness Consumer Mindset - August 2021

NRPA Announces Grant Funding to Support Equitable Access to Parks - August 2021

Arlington, Va., Named 'Fittest City' - July 2021

ACE Launches Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Course for Exercise Pros - July 2021

NRPA Survey Finds Strong Support for Park & Rec Infrastructure Investments - July 2021

2021 Report Shows Record Outdoor Participation - July 2021

YMCA Examines Generational, Racial Inequities in Water Safety Education - June 2021

Child Drownings Remain High - June 2021

CPSC Announces $2 Million in Grants Available to Help Prevent Drowning, Entrapment - June 2021

10th Annual ParkScore Index Names Washington, D.C., Best City Park System - June 2021

ACE, WIFA Launch Opportunity to Support Women in Fitness - June 2021

$150 Million in Grants Will Create Parks, Expand Recreation Opportunities - May 2021

CPSC Awards More Than $860,000 in Pool Safely Grants - May 2021

Leading Aquatic Organizations Champion Water Safety - May 2021

Keep America Beautiful Releases Study on Litter in America - May 2021

Outdoor Industry Association Paints Picture of the New Outdoor Participant - April 2021

NRPA Introduces New Resource Aimed at Eliminating Health Inequities - April 2021

ULI Report: Pandemic Led to Innovation in the Public Realm - April 2021

Nation's Pediatricians Provide New Guidance on Summer Camp Safety - April 2021

Grants Invest in Community Trail Projects - March 2021

Research Supports Safe Camp Operations During Pandemic - March 2021

USA Swimming Distributes Community Impact Grants - March 2021

Research Uncovers What Consumers Need to Return to Gyms - March 2021

Study Details Hard-Hitting Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Attractions Industry - March 2021

Outdoor Participation Up Significantly, Says Topline Data From Outdoor Foundation - February 2021

USA Swimming Awards Funds to Local Swimming Committees - February 2021

NGWSD Celebrates Girls & Women in Sports - February 2021

Organizations Lodge Opposition to Last-Minute LWCF Changes - February 2021

Parks & Rec Pros Serve Essential Mentorship Role - January 2021

USA Swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming Partner to Support Learn-to-Swim - January 2021

Online Training Tops 2021 Fitness Trends, Says ACSM - January 2021

New Appropriations Act Boosts City Park Funding - January 2021

Trust for Public Land Ranks Boise No. 1 for Dog Parks - December 2020

USA Swimming Recognizes Top-Performing Clubs - December 2020

Pediatricians Update Youth Sports Guidance, Recommend Face Coverings at All Times - December 2020

ACA Grant Program Aims to Promote Access and Inclusion at Camp - December 2020

2020 Voters Approve $3.7 Billion for Parks & Public Lands - November 2020

Study Highlights Parks & Rec's Role in Youth Sports - November 2020

Grants Available for Swim Lesson Providers - November 2020

Sports Medicine Experts to Address COVID-19 and Athlete Care - November 2020

Study Shows Americans Miss the Gym - November 2020

City Parks Alliance Launches Park Funding Hub - October 2020

Pool Safely's New PSA Focuses on Child Drowning Prevention - October 2020

U.S. Reps File Health & Fitness Recovery Act - October 2020

IHRSA Foundation, ACE Aim to Improve Exercise Inclusion for People With Intellectual Disability - October 2020

NRPA Survey: U.S. Adults Say Parks & Rec Is Essential - September 2020

Effective Date for Drain Cover Standard Delayed - September 2020

ACE Urges Governments to Open Parks & Public Spaces for In-Person Fitness - September 2020

CDC Study Examines Successful Overnight Camp Strategies from 2020 - September 2020