There is no single, dominant sports activity in the United States among active adults, according to a report issued by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) on Tuesday.
The 2017 Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities Topline Report indicates that participation rates within certain sport categories saw substantial changes over the last year, but few consistent trends emerged. The report assessed participation across 120 different activities.
Sports such as baseball, indoor soccer and team swimming did experience strong growth, as did fitness activities including rowing, stair climbing and cross training. Tackle football was one activity whose overall participation dropped while youth participation remained stable.
The report found that casual participation rates are growing more quickly than core rates, leading researchers to believe Americans are sampling more sports with no clear allegiance toward any single activity. The rise of casual participation rates may also be the result of sports governing bodies using more grassroots efforts to expand.
"This year's results are hard to summarize,” SFIA President Tom Cove said in a media release about the study. “There is good news for several sports, but just as many sports are seeing declines. It's clear we need to continue to do everything we can to engage young people in sports and fitness through fun and healthy experiences.
"Americans love to try new activities, and it's encouraging to see positive growth rates for such a wide variety of athletic options, but at the same time, reduced levels of core participation have to be a real concern for our industry,” Cove said. “It's important to transform some of today's casual participants into tomorrow's core athletes.”
Sports prominently featured in the annual Olympics—such as rugby, gymnastics, beach volleyball—also appeared to experience a participation spike.
SFIA will offer additional analysis of current participation trends during an April 20 webinar.