Industry Insights


Baseball And Basketball Participation Numbers On The Rise

By LeagueApps
February 21, 2019
2 min

The 2018 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Participation report was recently released and the data supports both the growth and decline in major group sports across the US. Terry Lefton, a reporter at Sports Business Journal, highlights many of the major trends in his recent article which includes commentary from the SFIA President, Tom Cove.

The main takeaways identified by Lefton are as follows:

Although 80 million Americans, approximately 27 to 28 percent of the population, are not participating in any of the 120-plus physical activities offered, the number of inactive youth is declining.

Basketball leads the way with the highest participation levels and growth amongst all sports. “Basketball participation remained on an upward swing in 2018, growing 3.5 percent to 24.2 million players.”

Baseball, another traditional sport, reported an increase in 1.5 percent to 15.9 million participants. Overall, baseball was the third most played sport in 2018.

Lefton and Cove credited the increase in participation in both basketball and baseball to the success of the MLB’s Play Ball and the NBA’s Jr. NBA programs. LeagueApps is proud to partner with both the NBA and MLB on their youth programs that continue to grow and expand to impact more and more kids.

The article goes on to discuss the continued and anticipated decline in tackle football participation as “the five-year average sees tackle football participation dropping 3.4 percent.” Additionally, the report demonstrated that there are two very different specialization trends. Within millennials, specialization is decreasing as many participants increase their activity and variation of activities.

Meanwhile, specialization continues to rise among youth athletes and is happening at increasingly earlier ages. Despite the proven disadvantages of specialization, youth participants, youth sports organizers and their families are not acknowledging the risk of specialization — burnout and severe injury– and continuing to mold single-sport athletes. The final correlation highlighted family income as a major barrier for youth sports participation.