No doubt about it, certain sports are more popular in particular areas and age groups. But, as a whole, which sport do you think tops the list in all people above the age of six? And is it a team or non-team sport? You might be surprised…
Age 6-13 years
In the 6-13 age group surveyed by Roy Morgan Research, it should come as no real shock that soccer nears the top of the list (see table below), although it has been just pipped by swimming. Recently, we published an article on Sydney Sport that spoke about the fact that soccer is now more popular than netball for females in this age group, too (Read: Females in football edging their way to success), which might explain why netball only comes in at number eight.
Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, points out that 10 out of the top 20 most popular sports and activities among Aussie kids aged six to 13 are team sports. ‘Soccer is the clear favourite, with 1.2 million young players across the country, followed by around 750,000 basketballers, 630,000 cricketers and 500,000 netballers.’
We noticed the contact sport of rugby league is way down at number 13, while rugby union doesn’t feature in the top 20 all. This could be due to the higher chances of injury in these sports, including concussion (read Hard Knocks: Concussion in sport).
Swimming was again number-one in popularity, while team sports tended to be left by the wayside in this age group (see table below). While soccer still makes the top five (just), sports that don’t require a team to accomplish are definitely taking centrestage. ‘Nearly all team sports move down the popularity list among those aged over 14, while many individual, non-competitive or exercise-based pursuits such as hiking, aerobics and surfing move up,’ explains Michele.
Sports, such as athletics/track and field, as well as softball and baseball, have also fallen right out of the top 20 in the over 14s.
So why are team sports less popular in older kids? This could be due to a number of factors. Among them could be that:
- It’s not fun anymore. Coaches and parents take the game more seriously in older players – it’s no longer just having a run, or kicking or throwing a ball, with some mates.
- There’s not as much time (on and off the field). Teens do have more homework and responsibilities. And while younger kids all seem to get minutes on the field, older kids may be benched for longer periods, or even a whole game. It’s been said that 90% of children would rather play on a losing team than sit on the bench of a winning team.
- They’re afraid to fail. With higher scrutiny in older players, and more of an emphasis on winning, the pressure is on for older kids to perform. So, if a teen isn’t ‘great’ at a sport, they are more likely to give it up in lieu of doing something non-competition based.
Top 20 Sports and Activities by regular participation rate
Interestingly, 45.3% of adults regularly walk for exercise – this equates to about 8.8 million people and would make walking the clear number-one activity for all ages. Among adults, exercise-based activities rule – going to the gym/weight training (13%) is more common than swimming, while jogging (9.9%) is more popular than cycling, and yoga (4%) trumps aerobics.
Tell us, did you give up a team sport for a solo sport or exercise-based activity? If so, let us know why you made the change in the comments section below.