The effects of COVID-19 are evident in the 64 sports and activities tracked by the NSGA in the 2021 Edition of its Sports Participation In The U.S. Report.  

Among the ten segments NSGA tracked, the largest increases in participation growth, according to its Total Participation Points (TPP)* measure, were in Wheel Sports (+15.5 percent) and Snow Sports (+4.3 percent). The largest decreases were in Individual Sports (-9.3 percent ) and Team Sports (-6.4 percent).

Steep declines in bowling, swimming and gymnastics impacted Individual Sports. Youth participation (ages 7-to-17) declined in all 11 team sports it tracks but increased in sports/activities including golf (+18 percent) and skateboarding (+15 percent).

“One year does not indicate a trend, and this is definitely the case with an unprecedented year such as 2020 where COVID-19 had such a significant impact,” said Nick Rigitano, NSGA Director of Insights & Analysis. “It will be interesting to see in the future if some of the abnormal increases and decreases turn into trends.

“Ideally, some of the outdoor sports and activities that saw increases because of social distancing will continue to see growth. Hopefully, the indoor and team sports and activities most affected by COVID-19 slowdowns and shutdowns will see a recovery,” Rigitano continued.

The other segments that showed participation growth were Shooting Sports (+3.0 percent), Personal Contact Sports (2.8 percent) and Open Water Sports (2.5 percent). Fitness Activities (-2.1 percent) also declined and the Outdoor Activities (+0.4 percent) and Indoor Games (-0.9 percent) segments remained relatively flat.

Female participation saw 27 sports/activities grew versus 2019 including golf (+16 percent), bicycle riding (+12 percent), exercise walking (+8 percent), tennis (+8 percent), and yoga (+2 percent).

Seven fitness activities are new to this year’s report including Boot Camp/Weekend Warrior, Cross-Training, Dance-Oriented Fitness, High-Intensity Interval Training, In-Home Video Workout, Spin/Power Cycling, and Suspension Training. Another new feature in the report is a look at organized versus recreational participation for select sports in 2020. These are sports that can be played either way, such as basketball for an organized team versus playing in the driveway or in a pickup game at the park.

To view the full report, go here. Go here to see which sports are in which segments. Go here for an explanation of NSGA’s TPP calculation.

Photo courtesy Trek