Pickleball nets fans

The sporting goods sector has shown resilience despite subdued consumer confidence in recent years. Although participation in organized sports has declined, senior partner Gemma D’Auria and coauthors note, consumers instead are favoring more accessible activities. Pickleball participation has shot up 159 percent from 2019 to 2022, and off-course golf grew 57 percent during that span.

Consumers are shifting to more accessible sports.

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A bar graph shows changes in participation levels of certain sports between 2019 and 2022. The sports with a positive change in participation levels, from highest to lowest, are pickleball at 159%, off-course golf at 57%, skateboarding at 36%, tennis at 33%, surfing at 25%, trail running at 21%, basketball at 13%, snowshoeing at 12%, bicycling at 11%, and outdoor soccer at 9%. The sports with a negative change in participation levels, from lowest to highest, are cheerleading at –7%, ultimate at –7%, bowling at –7%, target shooting at –9%, grass volleyball at –10%, paintball at –10%, track and field at –11%, lacrosse at –11%, downhill skiing at –14%, and slow-pitch softball at –15%.

Source: Sports, fitness, and leisure activities: Topline participation report, SFIA, 2023.

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To read the report, see “Time to move: Sporting goods 2024,” January 30, 2024.