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America's 15 Fastest Growing Sports & Activities

America's 15 Fastest Growing Sports & Activities

Big Picture Trends May Show How Other Sports Or Activities Can Grow

SILVER SPRING, MD – May 5, 2015 – While physical inactivity in the U.S. has reached a record-high of nearly 83 million people (which is nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population), millions of other Americans are physically active and engaged in sports, fitness and outdoor endeavors.  

Listed below are the top 15 growth sports or activities in the USA in the SFIA 2015 Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report.  The top growth activities (from 2012-2014) for sports, fitness, exercise, and physical activity endeavors are based on 'core' or committed participants.

The data has been broken down to highlight (1) the activities with the highest percentage growth and (2) the greatest growth of actual participants. It is interesting to note that 12 of the 15 activities appear in both categories. Not shown here is that for the 104 sports or activities in the overall national study, only 28 activities had growth from 2012 to 2014.  This is another indication of the effects of the 'Inactivity Pandemic,' where 2.5 million more Americans became totally sedentary in 2014.

 Top Sports 3

What Are The Key Trends We See?

1.    It's All About the 'Experience. Many people are simply looking for an athletic and exercise outlet that is not conventional.  While getting in better physical shape is always one of the goals of exercise and being physically active, the athletically inclined consumer of today seeks a fun mental and emotional 'takeaway,' which not all traditional sports endeavors can deliver.  That is why long weekend golf trips and weekend hiking excursions are so popular.

2.    What You Watch Is Not What You Do.  While millions of Americans love to watch major team sports events and major spectator events like auto races, the Olympics, and national championship events, the consumer is not always interested in actually doing what they watch. Many of the high visibility sports have become more entertainment driven. And, when you look at the top growth activities, you don’t see most of these activities on network TV.  The ‘celebrity or visibility factor’ that many think drives participation is more fiction than fact

3.    No Need For a Scoreboard.  While sports and exercise activities have a history of tracking winners and losers, many of today's physically active consumers simply want to be immersed in the moment of an activity.  For many people, just being involved in an activity makes them feel like a winner.

4.    Traditional Sports Are Missing.  One of the things that jumps out is most traditional team or individual sports, especially for children, are not listed. This is despite the tremendous life benefits team sports offers children such as handling adversity, team building and improving social skills.  We will be analyzing this trend in a future PHIT America Article. Our quick reaction is many traditional sports or activities have gotten too serious, dominated by mothers and fathers, and are not as fun or experiential as some new activities.