SGMA unveiled the first results from its new
partnership with OIA, SIA, TIA and NGF to produce a more complete look at
participation rates across the markets that make up the sporting goods
industry. SGMA released its
Participation in


report with an opening that outlines a study that will become one of the most
important in the sporting goods industry. As evidence of the benefit of the
collaboration effort between the trade groups, 60,000 individuals were polled
to produce this year’s report, as opposed to approximately 15,000
individuals in years past.  Due to the large disparity between the poll levels,
year-ago comparisons are a bit difficult, but the data still holds plenty of
interesting facts that can help to shed some light on the direction the market
might take in the future.

On the most general of levels, approximately 75% of

population participated in sports at least once during 2006.  Half of the
overall population, or 143.2 million people, participated in sports frequently
in the year, while core participants, which includes the 29.4 million regular
participants, accounted for 63% of the overall population.

Fitness activities accounted for approximately 43% of
overall participation, or 118.9 million participants for the year, with team
sports the second largest category at 16%, or 44.8 million participants, and
bowling and billiards third at 11%, or 29.0 million participants.

In Fitness activities, which includes Fitness Walking,
Running, Weightlifting and others, participation is dominated by Fitness
Walking with 70.3 million core participants.  Treadmill use is also large at
28.5 million core participants.  Though the exact growth numbers are not as
important, the trend for triple-digit growth in low impact Fitness Sports, like
Pilates, Ellipticals and Yoga/tai chi shows what will likely be major
activities for aging baby boomers.

The growth in Fitness is also backed up by the
data where
Ellipticals, Recumbent Bikes and similar low impact cardio machinery sold well
in 2006, but pure strength equipment faltered.  While the SSI data shows a
decrease in sales of Strength Equipment, SGMA’s report shows healthy
growth in participation.  The disparity can be attributed to the steady growth
in health club memberships over the past few years.

In Team Sports, Basketball remains the most played in

with healthy growth in 2006 participation versus the year before, but only Ice
Hockey and Softball had lower rates of first time participants.  Lacrosse, on
the other hand, had a 37.8% first time participant rate to go with its over-70%
overall participation growth. Cheerleading had the second highest rate of first
time participants amongst the team sports at 30.5%.  In addition to first time
participants, Lacrosse also had the highest average household income of any of
the team sports at $85,800.  Ice Hockey was second highest at $83,600.

Water Sports tended to have a higher average household
income than the other sport categories, which makes sense when looking at the
bulk of the American market compared to the ideal places to participate,
especially frequently, in these sports.

>>> Seeing five separate industry organizations
working together to create a well-rounded, detailed snapshot of the market is like
manna from heaven for anyone that craves consistent information.