Report: Baseball/Softball top list as most participated team sport in U.S.

Report: Baseball/Softball top list as most participated team sport in U.S.
20/05/2017

Registering nearly 25 million baseball and softball participants last year, baseball and softball topped the list as the most participated team sport in the United States in 2016.

Registering nearly 25 million baseball and softball participants last year in the United States, baseball and softball topped the list as the nation’s most played team sport in 2016, according to an annual report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).

Baseball also registered the highest-attended professional sports league in the U.S. (and the world) in 2016, with Major League Baseball (MLB) having previously announced 73.1 million in official attendance.

Baseball and softball have been under the same umbrella since 2013, following the merger of the International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation, which established the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

“The growth in baseball and softball participation is significant as traditional team sports do not usually see these kind of double digit increases,” said Tom Cove, SFIA President and CEO. “These numbers suggest something special is happening with baseball and softball. We believe basic efforts to put a ball, bat and glove in more young people’s hands really connect with the joy of the game.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “No goal is more important to Major League Baseball than making baseball and softball accessible and to engage with children in all communities. The results of the SFIA Report demonstrate that participation in baseball and softball is growing. We are encouraged by the success of the PLAY BALL initiative toward our objectives and grateful for partnerships with USA Baseball, USA Softball and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”

At the world level, WBSC leaders have forecast continued positive trends and increased global awareness in baseball and softball with the current boom in popularity of international baseball/softball competitions and the sport’s return at the next Olympics in 2020. Latest figures by the world governing body indicate baseball and softball are currently played by an estimated 65 million people in over 140 countries.

SFIA Report Highlights:

  • Overall baseball participation increased by 7.7% and slow-pitch softball participation increased by 8.1% in 2016
  • In 2016, casual participation in baseball rose by 18.1% and slow-pitch softball increased by 12.4%.
  • Casual participation in baseball and slow-pitch softball is up 34% over the last five years.
  • When combined, baseball and softball (fast-and slow-pitch) have more casual participants than any other sport (10.25 million total casual participants).