Participation Rates in Selected Sport and Fitness Activities

in Journal of Sport Management
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The extent to which American adults reported participating in selected sport and fitness activities over the past decade was examined. Data were obtained from Simmons Market Research Bureau, Inc., which produces annually the largest and most representative measure of adult sport, recreation, and fitness participation in the United States. Despite optimistic projections for sustained growth in participation rates by sport and fitness industry representatives, trend analysis revealed that participation in all but one of the activities examined had declined substantially. For each of the sport and fitness activities analyzed, active participation was confined to a very small percentage of the total adult population. Participants were divided into three segments (light, medium, and heavy) based on the frequency of their participation. Segment analysis supported the core/fringe concept—a small, active core of heavy users accounted for the majority of total participation volume, particularly in sport activities. Analysis of gender differences found female representation as a proportion of total participation declined substantially over the decade in racquetball, tennis, and jogging. Implications for professional practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Dennis R. Howard is with the School of HPER at The Ohio State University, 455 Larkins Hall, 337 W. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1284.

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