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SFIA Team Sports Report Reveals Casual Participation Waning

Source: SFIA

SILVER SPRING, MD – December 10, 2014 – Several team sports including basketball, football (tackle), and soccer have seen a shift towards greater core participation over the past six years, while casual participation has faded, according to the latest U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report published by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). 

Basketball has seen its core participation composition increase 3.1% since 2008, with casual decreasing 6.7%. Football (tackle, touch, and flag) had an average core growth of 8.7% while experiencing a 7.6% decrease in casual play. Soccer’s core composition rose 5.8% with casual participation shrinking 5%. 

“In focusing on team sports’ growth and retraction over the past six years, we’re building on last year’s findings and continuing to explore the changes in casual vs. core participation,” said VJ Mayor, SFIA Sr. Director of Research and Communications. “Gone are the days when a pick-up neighborhood game was standard. The new normal is league or club play with a structured practice and game schedule.”

Pick-up play mainstays like basketball (+3.3% in league play) have undergone a trend towards league- and school-affiliated play. League participation also increased for other popular sports from 2008-2013, including soccer (+2.3%), volleyball (court, +4.1%; grass, +12.1%; sand/beach, +3.4%), and touch football (+37.4%), signaling the emergence of the league based recreational core athlete over the past six years. 

The 2014 SFIA U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report breaks down trending data to reveal shifts in what sports Americans play and how they play them, as well as data on coaching in youth sports, a crucial element to establishing lifelong team sports participation habits. The report explores the state of youth sports coaching, highlighting trends in who exactly is coaching which sports, and what types of skills and safety training coaches have.

“Youth sports coaches are valuable assets to our industry, especially those of whom played youth sports themselves in the past,” said Mayor. “We’re excited to be sharing this data with our members for the first time and look forward to reporting on it in the future.”

The 2014 SFIA U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report is available as a free member benefit to current SFIA members and can be accessed here. The non-member rate is $495.

ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services. For more information, please visit

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