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

Feature Story

January 2022

SFIA Report Reveals Impact of Pandemic on Organized Team Sports

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2021 U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report, the total number of Americans participating in a team sport dropped by 3.8 million players in 2020. The report, which examines participation and market trends in team sports and features in-depth data analysis of age group participation and more, breaks out the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the team sports landscape.

In contrast to previous years, team sports participation in 2020 skewed heavily toward casual or recreational participation, which actually showed an increase, as opposed to core participation. More than 80% of touch football, grass volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and beach/sand volleyball players participated in casual games in 2020.

The most-played team sport in America in 2020? Basketball, which lends itself to solo practice, small-sided games and social formats, in addition to competitive play. Basketball's 11.4% growth in 2020 was by far the largest of any team sport. Four other team sports also saw growth in 2020, including indoor soccer, outdoor soccer (now the No. 2 team sport among 18- to 24-year-olds), ultimate frisbee and flag football.

"As much as any sports and fitness category, team sports participation was negatively affected by the unique environment forced upon our country by the pandemic," said Tom Cove, president and CEO of SFIA. "As was to be expected, team sports that were able to be played outdoors and in a less organized fashion did better in 2020. At the same time, there is encouraging news that the average number of team sports played increased, suggesting more experimentation and perhaps, more overall growth over a long period of time."

Despite a decline in team sports participation, the SFIA report indicates the number of sports played per participant increased from 1.84 to 1.88, overturning a three-year declining trend. A common theme for sports that had more participants during 2020 was that those sports could be played recreationally, outside or socially distanced. In many instances, the pandemic forced kids to try new sports that were socially distant. Another positive trend SFIA found was an increase in coaching training, and trained coaches help provide better experiences for players, which can lead to a higher retention rate. "In an unprecedented year, team sports grinded it out and survived," Cove said. "The best news is initial indicators suggest a robust return to team sports participation as pandemic restrictions are lifted and schools and recreation spaces open back up. We are encouraged by the underlying data and feel strongly that team sports have a good foundation for moving into 2021 and beyond."

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Schoolyard Playground Program Earns ASLA Olmsted Medal - December 2021

Report Shows Park & Rec Out-of-School Time Programming Is Vital - December 2021

Rails-to-Trails Grant Invest in Equitable Trail Access - December 2021

Aquatic Groups to Co-Locate Conferences to Expand Reach - November 2021

New SFIA Report Tracks Changes in Fitness Industry - November 2021

ACA, White House Recognize New Hampshire Program That Benefits Camps & Families - November 2021

New NRPA Guide Aims to Facilitate Conversations Around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - November 2021

Grants Available for Youth & Adult Swim Lesson Providers - October 2021

NAYS Partnership Will Provide Sporting Goods Where Needed - October 2021

RWJF Recognizes Community-Based Sports Organizations - October 2021

Soccer Mini Pitch Honoring Former MLS Player Ray Gaddis Unveiled in Indianapolis - October 2021

CDC Reports Major Increase in Obesity Over Past Decade - September 2021

Despite Pandemic, Sports & Fitness Participation Grew, Says SFIA - September 2021

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