Americans Spend Big on Athletics

Staff Report

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Americans spent more than $100 billion over the past year on sporting events, athletic equipment and gym memberships, according to a new report from Sporting events, including tickets, transportation and food and beverage, comprised the majority of the spending; 79 million people indicated laying out a total of $56 billion in the past 12 months.

Similarly, Americans also spent big on athletic equipment – in excess of $33 billion – according to the report. Gym membership fees also totaled well into the billions, with 54 million people racking up a $19 billion tally in the past 12 months.

"Americans love sports, but it's no secret that attending a professional sporting event is a costly endeavor, even from the upper deck," said senior industry analyst Matt Schulz. "That doesn't seem to be stopping people from spending a ton on athletics, though, proving that 'if you build it, they will come.'"

The likelihood of spending on sporting events, athletic equipment and gym memberships in the past year increases with income and education. For instance, 68% of those with a college degree spent money on at least one of these, as opposed to 41% of those with no more than a high school diploma. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those in the highest income bracket ($75K+ per year) spent money on at least one of these things and 14% indicated they spent on all three. The percentages drop to 41% and 2%, respectively, for the lowest earners (under $30K per year).

Parents are much more likely than non-parents to have splurged on athletic equipment over the past year. Nearly half (46%) of those with children under age 18 indicated spending money in that category, compared to 22% of those without children. The same holds true for attending a sporting event; 46% of those with young children paid up to view a sporting event in-person, versus just 28% of those without children.

When it comes to heading to the stadium, older Americans tend to sit it out. Only 21% of those 53 years and older spent money on attending a sporting event in the past year, compared to 43% of those ages 18-52.

Millennials are the most likely to have spent money on the gym in the past 12 months. Thirty-six percent of those 18-36 say they paid for a gym membership, twice as many as those who are older.