Back to News

NSGA’S Sports Participation in the U.S. Report Reflects Effects of COVID-19 

NSGA News • May 6, 2021


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

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (May 6, 2021) – The effects of COVID-19 were evident in the 64 sports and activities tracked for the 2021 edition of the National Sporting Goods Association’s (NSGA) Sports Participation in the U.S. report released today.

The industry’s longest-standing and most comprehensive participation study saw 30 sports and activities with increases in participation. The 2021 Sports Participation in the U.S. report, available on NSGA’s website,, includes easy-to-understand, quick-view snapshots, allowing users to see participation trends as well as demographic details regarding age, income and U.S. region.

Among the 10 segments NSGA tracks, the largest increases in participation growth, according to NSGA’s Total Participation Points (TPP)* measure, were in Wheel Sports (+15.5%) and Snow Sports (+4.3%) and the largest decreases were in Individual Sports (-9.3% ) and Team Sports (-6.4%).

Steep declines in bowling, swimming and gymnastics impacted the Individual Sports. Youth participation (ages 7-17) declined in all 11 team sports NSGA tracks but increased in sports/activities such as golf (+18%) and skateboarding (+15%).

“One year does not indicate a trend and this is definitely the case with an unprecedented year such as 2020, where COVID-19 had such a significant impact,” said Nick Rigitano, NSGA Director of Insights & Analysis. “It will be interesting to see in the future if some of the abnormal increases and decreases turn into trends.

“Ideally, some of the outdoor sports and activities that saw increases because social distancing was possible will continue to see growth. Hopefully, the indoor and team sports and activities most affected by COVID-19 slowdowns and shutdowns will see a recovery.”

The other segments that showed participation growth were Shooting Sports (+3.0%), Personal Contact Sports (2.8%) and Open Water Sports (2.5%). Fitness Activities (-2.1%) also declined and the Outdoor Activities (+0.4%) and Indoor Games (-0.9%) segments remained relatively flat. Click here to see which sports are in which segmentsand click here for an explanation of the TPP calculation.

Female participation saw 27 sports/activities have growth vs. 2019. They included golf (+16%), bicycle riding (+12%), exercise walking (+8%), tennis (+8%) and yoga (+2%).

There are seven fitness activities that are new to the report this year: Boot Camp/Weekend Warrior, Cross-Training, Dance-Oriented Fitness, High Intensity Interval Training, In-Home Video Workout, Spin/Power Cycling and Suspension Training.

Another new feature to this year’s report is a look at organized vs. recreational participation for select sports in 2020. These are sports that can be played either way, such as basketball for an organized team vs. playing in the driveway or in a pickup game at the park.

About NSGA’s Sports Participation in the U.S.
The longest-running study in the U.S. on sports participation, this research publication includes a summary snapshot of segment participation trends from the 1990s through 2020, and an easy-to-understand quick-view snapshot for each sport and activity tracked, allowing users to see 10-year participation trends in addition to age, income and US geographic information. NSGA also offers Cross Participation, Lifecycle Demographics and Single Sport Reports that further expand upon participation information for comprehensive views of the sports/activities tracked.

*Total Participation Points (TPP) offer a more complete view of participation because both the number of people participating in each sport segment (reach), and the number of sports each person is participating in (depth), are considered.

Visit for a complete list of NSGA research available and purchase information.                                                       

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