Business Blog

A Closer Look at Sports Participation 2017



If you’re in the outdoor industry, here’s a quick refresher on market size. In 2016, according to the latest report from the National Sporting Goods Association, 5.8 million bowhunters, 18 million firearms hunters and 33.3 million anglers took to the woods, fields and water in pursuit of fish and game.


Depending on your perspective, that could be considered a really large pool of consumers. Sometimes, though, it’s worthwhile to step back and look at all sports participation. After all, we’re all looking for ways to expand our base of potential customers, right?


Following are some NSGA participation statistics that will give you something to chew on. This list is not comprehensive, and it focuses specifically on outdoor sports (as opposed to indoor activities such as aerobics and exercising with equipment, and team sports such as football), but it does provide some perspective for manufacturers and retailers. All numbers include participants age 7 and older, and the current report goes back only to 2007.


  • The No. 1 sports activity in the U.S. by a wide margin is exercise walking, with 105.7 million participants in 2016, up from 89.9 million in 2007.


  • Running and jogging as a form or recreation and exercise has grown every year for the past decade, with 44.9 million participants in 2016, an increase of one-third since 2007.


  • Swimming is a standout in participation numbers, with 45.6 million participants in 2016, a very slight decrease from the 52.3 million in 2007.


  • Hiking is another activity that has grown nearly every year since 2007, when there were 28.6 million participants. That number has now grown to 42.9 million.


  • Camping participation has remained pretty steady for the past decade with 40.4 million people taking more than one overnight trip in 2016.


  • Bicycle riding participation has also remained consistent, with 36.2 bicyclists hitting the road in 2016. 



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