Weightlifting was the fastest growing of the 41 sports and activities surveyed by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) in 2005. With 35.5 million participants, weightlifting participation increased a whopping 35.4%, a change usually reserved for the lesser-participated sports and activities, which tend to have larger percentage changes, both increases and decreases.

In fact, half of the 10 fastest growing sports surveyed in 2005 had more than 10 million total participants, and two were above the 9.0 million mark.

Target shooting (airgun) was the second-fastest growing sport surveyed with 6.7 million participants (+30.6%), followed by target archery, 6.8 million (+28.5%); water skiing, 6.7 million (+26.9%); and motor/power boating, 27.5 million (+20.9%).

Skateboarding (+16.5%), Tennis (+15.6%), tackle football (+15.5%), off-road mountain biking (+14.9%) and aerobic exercising (+14.4%) round out the top 10. Of the 41 sports surveyed, only eight showed participation declines. The sharpest drops were seen in cross-country skiing (-20.4%) and scooter riding (-19.4%).

For this survey, a participant is someone age seven or older who takes part in the sport or activity more than once in a calendar year. “Sports Participation in 2005-Series I and II” cover 41 sports, recreation and fitness activities.

These reports have been published by NSGA for more than 25 years. They provide data on total 2005 participation, frequency of participation, and average number of participation days. Single-time participation, which is not counted in the total, is included separately.

Demographic data on participants includes gender, age, mean age by gender, gender by age, household income, and education of male and female head of household. Geographic analysis includes nine census regions and metro area size. Presence of children is also noted, and Internet usage is reported by gender and age of participants.

In addition to Series I and II, state-by-state data is available in “Sports Participation in 2005: State-By-State.” This report covers 37 sports and activities, and provides data on total participation, frequency of participation and total participation days.