Strapped Americans seek value in sports
In a sign that the economy is still struggling, a survey shows Americans keep looking for value when they exercise, choosing pursuits like running, yoga and kickboxing – three sports that don’t have huge equipment or facility expenses.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association released its annual participation overview Monday and reported that running enjoyed a 6.7 percent uptick in 2009.
Yoga (13.2 percent) and “cardio kickboxing” (20.1) were among the biggest gainers from 2008 to 2009. Tennis participation went down by .1 percent, but still has grown nearly 43 percent since 2000.
“Active Americans favored easily accessible, low cost-to-participate, ‘efficient’ sports and fitness options,” said Tom Cove, president and CEO of the industry group.
Only 4.5 percent of Americans surveyed who call themselves “active,” said they spent more on sports, fitness and recreation in 2009 over 2008 while 25.5 percent said they spent “considerably less.”
But in what the SGMA said could be a sign of good news, 23.1 percent of those who said they were active planned to spend more in 2010. The survey included all participants older than age 6.
Team sports such as baseball, basketball, football and indoor volleyball all took significant hits – a reflection on the decreased amount of time and money parents have to shuttle their kids to games and practices and pay for league fees.
“In recent years, unless you’re signed up to play team sports through the rec center, you don’t play,” SGMA spokesman Mike May said. “Then, you’ve seen the decline of sandlot neighborhood games and team sports, so that’s why you see the numbers drop off.”
Basketball remained the leading team sport, with more than 24 million players, though 57 percent of players surveyed said they played in pickup games in driveways and parks.
There was a 9.5 percent increase in the number of people who used their recreational vehicles to go camping between one and seven times. There was also a 5.5 percent increase in skiing, which is a more expensive sport, the numbers for which are often more a product of snow conditions than the economy.
Participation in golf, traditionally a tough sell in a bad economy, fell by 5.1 percent in 2009, according to the survey.