We love our sport in this country.
We love playing it and we love watching it.
But we also love talking about it, so here’s some food for thought based on the latest Roy Morgan research on this very Australian subject.
Roy Morgan looked at how we engage with sport has changed over a 15 year period between 2001 and 2016.
In 2001 our population was 19,274,701 and by 2016 it had grown by 4,852,458 to 24,127,159.
During that period, Roy Morgan found that our participation rate in competitive sport has declined, but more of us are getting into unstructured activities.
Roy Morgan monitors the participation trends in over 60 sports, fitness activities and outdoor leisure pursuits.
It found that soccer has been the big winner of the new century so far, gaining almost 200,000 regular participants (up 46 percent to 623,000).
Now the most played competitive sport in Australia, in 2001 soccer was fourth on the list, with only slightly more players than basketball, cricket and netball.
Rugby league participation is down, and we can see that happening locally as the number of registered players continues to decline.
As for rugby union, well, the Roy Morgan research confirms that’s it’s a basket case.
Just one in five Australians now regularly play competitive sports, down from 27 percent in 2001.
Whether one-on-one or team versus team, the number of Australians (aged 14+) who regularly play competitive sport has declined consistently since 2001.
Over the past 15 years, more Australians are walking for exercise, jogging, cycling, going to the gym or taking part in yoga classes.
Michele Levine, the CEO of Roy Morgan Research, says that Australians are losing their competitive spirit when it comes to playing sport.
“Overall, one in two Australians aged 14-plus regularly do some form of sport, fitness or heart-pumping leisure activity, which is unchanged since 2001.
“So although many sports have fallen out of favour, we’re still keeping comparatively fit through other individual activities that aren’t about keeping score, finishing first, or facing defeat from an opponent,’’ she says.
“Personal activities are also easier to fit into busy lifestyles, while competitive sports require a lot of time and commitment,’’ Ms Levine said.
“Walking for exercise has also increased over the period, to now being something almost half of us do regularly.
“Today almost 20 percent of Australian don’t participate in any other sport or fitness activity except walking.
“Together this leaves an estimated three in 10 Australians who don’t do any regular sport or fitness activities at all – not even a brisk walk.’’
♦ If you’d like to read more about this research, check out the Roy Morgan research results here.