SFIA Releases 2021 U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report

Basketball, Indoor and Outdoor Soccer, Flag Football and Ultimate Frisbee Bucked Trend and Grew

SILVER SPRING, MD (December 21, 2021) – The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has released its 2021 U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report, which examines participation and market trends in team sports and features in-depth data analysis of age group participation and specific takeaways. This year’s report breaks out the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the team sports landscape across multiple demographic cross-sections.

SFIA data shows the total number of Americans participating in a team sport dropped by 3.8 million players. In contrast to previous years, team sports participation in 2020 skewed heavily toward casual or recreational participation, which saw an increase versus core participation, with over 80% of touch football, grass volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and beach/sand volleyball players participating in casual games.

Basketball, which lends itself to solo practice, small-sided games, and social formats, as well as competitive play, was the most played team sport in America in 2020, and its 11.4% growth was by far the largest of any team sport. Even amid the pandemic, four other team sports grew in 2020, including indoor soccer, outdoor soccer – now the number two team sport among 18–24-year-olds – ultimate frisbee, and flag football.

“As much as any sports and fitness category, team sports participation was negatively affected by the unique environment forced upon our country by the pandemic,” said Tom Cove, President and CEO of SFIA. “As was to be expected, team sports that were able to be played outdoors and in a less organized fashion did better in 2020. At the same time, there is encouraging news that the average number of team sports played increased, suggesting more experimentation and perhaps, more overall growth over a long period of time.”

Despite a decline in team sports participation, the SFIA report indicates the number of sports played per participant increased from 1.84 to 1.88, overturning a three-year declining trend. A common theme for sports that had more participants during 2020 was that those sports could be played recreationally, outside, or socially distanced. In many instances, the pandemic forced kids to try new sports that were socially distant.

Another positive trend SFIA found was an increase in coaching training, and trained coaches help provide better experiences for players, which can lead to a higher retention rate.

Cove states, “In an unprecedented year, team sports grinded it out and survived. The best news is initial indicators suggest a robust return to team sports participation as pandemic restrictions are lifted and schools and recreation spaces open back up. We are encouraged by the underlying data and feel strongly that team sports have a good foundation for moving into 2021 and beyond.”

The 2021 U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report is free to SFIA Members and is available to the public for purchase by clicking here for $649. The report is provided free-of-charge to members of the media. If you are interested in a copy of this report, please contact Lisa Futterman at [email protected].


ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs and member services. For more information, please visit www.sfia.org. Follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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