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NSGA Sports Participation Study Offers Glimpse of COVID-19 Impact

NSGA News • March 30, 2021


Marty Maciaszek, Director of Communications
(847) 296-6742, ext. 1260

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (March 30, 2021) – Early figures from the 2021 edition of the National Sporting Goods Association’s (NSGA) Sports Participation in the U.S. report provide an indication of the impact COVID-19 had on the 10 segments tracked by NSGA in 2020. The industry’s longest-standing and most comprehensive participation study saw five segments increase in participation, three segments decrease and two segments remain relatively flat compared to 2019.

Segments showing growth, according to NSGA’s Total Participation Points (TPP) measure, included Wheel Sports (+15.5%), Snow Sports (+4.3%), Shooting Sports (+3.0%), Personal Contact Sports (2.8%) and Open Water Sports (2.5%). Segments declining included Individual Sports (-9.3%), driven by steep declines in bowling, gymnastics and swimming, Team Sports (-6.4%) and Fitness Activities (-2.1%). The Outdoor Activities (+0.4%) and Indoor Games (-0.9%) segments remained relatively flat. Click here to see which sports are in which segments and click here for an explanation of the TPP calculation.

“We expected to see some abnormal increases and decreases in participation in 2020 because of the impact of COVID-19,” said Nick Rigitano, NSGA Director of Insights & Analysis. “People still had the ability to take advantage of more socially distant outdoor activities such as bicycling, golf, tennis, skiing and snowboarding. But shutdowns and slowdowns by sports organizations and indoor facilities certainly had an impact on some individual sports played indoors and most team sports due to their lack of social distancing.

“It will be interesting to see if some of the gains are sustained or the declines are stopped as the country emerges from the pandemic. We hope some of the lost opportunities for people to do what they enjoy leads to an increased desire to participate even more than in the past.”

The 2021 Sports Participation in the U.S. report will be available in the coming weeks on NSGA’s website and people can inquire at if they are interested. The report tracks 64 sports and recreational activities and includes easy-to-understand, quick-view snapshots for each, allowing users to easily see a 10-year participation trend (when available), as well as demographic details regarding age, income and U.S. region. NSGA’s participation research also includes Cross Participation, Lifecycle Demographics and Single-Sport report.

About the National Sporting Goods Association

Since 1929, the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been the leading voice and go-to resource for the sporting goods industry. NSGA helps the industry grow its businesses through research, advocacy and networking. For more information about membership or NSGA’s products and services, please visit