Participation lagged in basketball, baseball, ice hockey and soccer in 2012, while it increased in lacrosse, softball and volleyball. The largest drop in team sports took place in tackle football, which experienced a nearly 13 percent decline in participation since 2011.

More than one-half of the decline in tackle football was within the 7-11 age group, and all of the decline in that age group was from the infrequent (2-9 times) and occasional (10-49 times) participants. There was an increase in frequent (50+ times) participants aged 7-11.

A few key insights from these new reports are below:
Participation Growth in Majority of Sports – Of the 47 sports/activities tracked, 32 experienced participation growth during 2012. Indoor gaming activities increased by an average of 11 percent, while fitness sports each increased about 5 percent. Shooting sports were mixed but sports with firearms drove overall average increases to over 3 percent. Snow sports saw the steepest decline in 2012, dropping an average of 11 percent.
Female Participation Driving Much of the Growth – Much of the participation growth mentioned above was driven by females, with 40 of the 47 sports/activities having increased female participation, compared to only 11 showing increased male participation.
Shooting Sports with Firearms Experienced Double Digit Growth – Overall, participation in hunting with firearms increased more than 18 percent, even more sharply among females (up nearly 29 percent compared to 2011). Target shooting with live ammunition showed a 10.9 percent increase, with female participation increasing by over 27 percent.
The 2013 editions of the research include participation data from 47 sports and activities, and this year marks the 28th year the association has compiled participation data.
“While it’s important to recognize that one year does not make a trend, and there are many contributing factors for the increases and decreases in participation levels in every sport, we found some very interesting insights in this year’s research,” said NSGA’s Director of Research & Information Dustin Dobrin. “Overall, participation in many sports is rebounding after some difficult years, while others continue to struggle in attracting new participants.”
In addition to its Sports Participation in the United States (formerly broken out into Series I and Series II), NSGA’s participation research includes State-by-State, Lifecycle Demographics, Cross Participation, and Single Sport reports.
Regular purchasers will find a new experience when opening the 2013 editions of NSGA’s reports. For the first time, both the Sports Participation in the United States and the Sports Participation State-by-State reports include quick view snapshots – one-page charts and graphs that allow users to easily see demographic information and a 10-year trend on each sport/activity.
According to Dobrin, “We have taken steps to make the data in our reports very easy to consume so users can easily understand all of the key information they’re looking for with less effort.”
For more information on each report and to purchase copies, visit
The National Sporting Goods Association has served as the leading voice for the sporting goods industry since 1929.