sports and games

Video Games


The majority of the video games data I’ve found is historic, with a couple of one-off, short-term forecasts for mobile phone gamers by Statista (2011-2020), and another one-off forecast for 2008-2018 for daily time spent gaming by VSS. I’ve also seen a couple five-year industry revenues forecasts from Euromonitor and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (to 2019), but these figures are pretty well protected behind paywalls. NewZoo also forecasts audience and revenues for eSports to 2019, and they’re pretty open with their data, but these figures are global.

Releases per year historic data is available for 1971-2015 from Moby Games. I also found one Quora estimate for titles released 2003-2012, but this is a very rough approximate showing a trend that does not strictly agree with the Moby Games data.

The ESA publishes an annual “Essential Facts” report, which has recently included numeric estimates of the number of game players (2014). Older reports give percentages only. The indicators describing number of players have varied a bit from year to year, but some approximation is available for 2004 through the present. In addition to the ESA report, GameTrack has also issued a numeric estimate of the number of players, but just for 2012.

A few historic estimates of time spent gaming are available for 2011-2013 from Neilsen; 2008-2018 and 1995-2005 from VSS; 2014 from NPD Group; and 1999-2009 from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

I’ve found one website that provides fairly comprehensive eSports earnings information going back to 1998, including total prize money, tournaments, active players, US players, US earnings, etc.


Releases Per Year

A 2010 article describing the “death of the video game expert” as a result of the explosion in the number of games published per year refers to video game database MobyGames.com as its source for annual game release numbers. The article includes a chart through 2009, but doesn’t give the tallies for each year, so I’ve retrieved the information from MobyGames.

The simple tally for 1971-2015 is in this Google Sheet.

Note: This database includes substantially more titles than were reflected in the Quora answer below (in which data was gathered by hand from a variety of Wikipedia pages). I believe the MobyGames data to be more accurate.


Dana Laratta. April 8, 2010. “The Death of the Video Game Expert.” BitMob. via Internet Archive.

Game Browser — Year. MobyGames


A Quora researcher compiled data from various Wikipedia pages and found that in general there has been a decline in the number of releases per year from 2003 through 2012. Several commenters have theories on why this may be or corroborate the trend.
Raw numbers:

Src: David Cole. October 31, 2013. “On average, how many video games are released each year, by platform?” Quora.

I’m guessing the researcher probably mined these Wikipedia pages:
Category:Video games by year
Category: Video game lists by company


Since 1975 (through 2010), 547 films have given rise to around 2,000 video games, and film adaptations are now (2010) a category that accounts for some 10% of video games published.

Alexix Blanchet. December 7, 2011. “A Statistical Analysis of the Adaptation of Films into Video Games

author email: alexis.blanchet@univ-paris3.fr
author website.

Video Game Players

Number of Americans aged 11+ who play video games

2012 – 68%, 165 million people

GameTrack, via: Rachel Weber. Dec 11, 2012. “US Still the Gaming Super Power.” GamesIndustry.biz.


155 million Americans play video games
4/5 of US households own a device to play video games
51% of US households own a dedicated game console
avg two gamers in each game-playing US household
42% of Americans play video games regularly (3 hours or more per week).
avg game player is 35 years old
26% are under 18
30% are 18-35
17% are 36-49
27% are 50+
56% of game players are male
44% of game players are female
women 18+ are 33% of gameplayers, boys 18- are only 15%
39% of the most frequent gamers play social games
top three types of games that the most frequent gamers play most often:
31% – social games
30% – action
30% – puzzle/board game/card game/game shows
top devices most frequent gamers use to play
PC – 62%
Dedicated console – 56%
Smartphone – 35%
Wireless device – 31%
Dedicated handheld system – 21%
56% of the most frequent gamers play with others
the most frequent gamers who play with others spend an average of
6.5 hrs per week playing with others online
5 hours per week playing with others in-person

src: The ESA, April 2015. “2015 Essential Facts.

2013 – 59% of Americans play video games
2012 – 58% of Americans play video games

The ESA, October 2014. “2014 Essential Facts
The ESA, June 2013. “2013 Essential Facts

49% of US households own a dedicated console

72% of American households play computer or video games

67% of American households play computer or video games

68% of American households play computer or video games
43% of Americans have purchased or plan to purchase one or more games in the year

65% of American households play computer or video games
42% of Americans have purchased or plan to purchase one or more games in the year

67% of American heads of households play computer or video games
41% of Americans have purchased or plan to purchase one or more games in the year

69% of American heads of households play computer or video games
42% of Americans have purchased or plan to purchase one or more games in the year

75% of heads of households play computer or video games
47% of Americans have purchased or plan to purchase one or more games in the year

Note: I believe the 2005 report (with data for 2004) was the first year the ESA started quantifying the number of players/playing households. The 2004 report (with data for 2003) does not include any such figures.


The ESA. “2012 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2011 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2010 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2009 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2008 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2007 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2006 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2005 Essential Facts.

The ESA. “2004 Essential Facts.


Number of mobile phone gamers in the US from 2011 to 2020 (in millions)
2011 – 80.7
2012 – 106.3
2013 – 129.3
2014 – 147.6
2015 – 164.9
2016 – 180.4 (forecast)
2017 – 192.2 (forecast)
2018 – 202.8 (forecast)
2019 – 209.5 (forecast)
2020 – 213 (forecast)

Statista, citing eMarketer

# of Mobile Game Users (millions) – United States
2014 – 83.38
2015 – 95.56
2016 – 104.16
2017 – 112.189
2018 – 120.069
2019 – 125.022
2020 – 128.327

src: Krista Lofgren. February 8, 2016. “2016 Video Game Statistics & Trends Who’s Playing What & Why.” Big Fish Games.

Note: Big Fish Games produces and distributes casual games. These figures were not cited in the blog post in which they were given, but the author confirms by email that the data came from a Statista study on the Digital Market Outlook for video games.

Time Spent Gaming

Claimed weekly hours spent gaming on any platform (US gamers 13+)
2013 – 6.3 hours
2012 – 5.6 hours
2011 – 5.1 hours

src: Nielsen. May 27, 2014. “Multi-Platform Gaming: For The Win!


Time spent daily playing video games per capita
2008 – 17.8 min
2013 – 23.2 min
2018 – 28.3 min (forecast)

src: Veronis Suhler Stevenson & Borrell Assoicates (VSS), 2014, via Emmanuel Agu, et al. “Making Exergames Appealing” in “Handbook on Holistic Perspectives in Gamification for Clinical Pactice,” 2015.


daily time spent playing video games per capita in the US in 2018 expected to be 28.3

LexInnova Technologies. July 1, 2014. “Godlike Gaming: A Landscape Analysis On The Future Of The Gaming Industry” p.5
NOTE: I suspect this report is referring to VSS data, although they’re not cited.

Hours per year spent playing video games (vs. reading)
1995 – 80 (100)
2000 – 140 (85)
2005 – 195 (80)

src: Estimated based on a chart citing Versonis Suhler Stevenson Communications Group. 2005. “2004 Communications Industry Forecast and Report.” adapted in: Lawrence Baines. 2008. “A Teacher’s Guide to Multisensory Learning.

Note: Converting the hours/year above to minutes/day would yield
1995 – 13.2
2000 – 23.0
2005 – 32.1


2014 – 34 million “core gamers” play core games on core devices an average of 22hrs/wk

These “core gamers” make up 12% of the total survey respondents (extrapolated to 34 million individuals ages 9+). This is down two percent from 14% of respondents in 2013.

Among the total surveyed population, 42% (extrapolated to 118 million individuals ages 9+) play on a core device. 19% (extrapoalted to 53 million) play 5+ hours per week on a core device.

“Core gamer”: individuals who play video games five or more hours per week on a PlayStation3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, or Mac, and who play Action, Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player, Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Plating, Shooter, or Sport genres on any of those devices.

src: NPD Group. May 13, 2014. “The NPD Group Reports 34 Million Core Gamers Spend an Average of 22 Hours per Week Playing Video Games
NPD Group. April 2014. “Core Gaming 2014 Snapshot Report.


Among children aged 8-18, average time playing video games
1999 – 26min/day
2004 – 49min/day
2009 – 1hr13min/day

Among children aged 8-18, average time playing games on computer
1999 – 12min/day
2004 – 19min/day
2009 – 17min/day

Note: this study also includes daily consumption figures for TV, music/audio, computer (including a games subcategory – don’t think this is included in the standalone video game consump figures), print media, movies

Kaiser Family Foundation. January 2010. “Generation M2

Industry Revenue Forecasts

Euromonitor International.
July 2015. “Video Games in the US.
Includes industry stats 2009-2014, five year forecast from 2014-2019 (“Video games is expected to see a CAGR of 4% at constant 2014 prices over the forecast period.” Early growth will be driven by console purchases, thereafter by software sales.) Fee-based report – no other figures freely accessible.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers,
via Venture Beat.
June 2, 2015. “U.S. games industry forecast to grow 30 percent to $19.6B by 2019.
Pauline Orchard
Nicholas Braude
Annaul global entertainment and media outlook (Outlook), covers 13 entertainment and media segments, including video games. The Outlook provides a five-year foreast and five-year historic consumer and advertiser spending data and analysis.
US video game industry (console and PC games, browser-based games, apps, digital and physical, game advertising) will grow 30% from $15 billion in 2014 to $19.6 billion in 2019, with a mature compound annual growth rate of 5.5% Traditional console and PC games were about 80.8% of game industry revenue in 2014, and expected to drop a fraction to 79% by 2019. These figures DO NOT include hardware sales of gaming PCs, consoles, or other devices.
Physical PC game sales are projected to decline, but digital games will grow with a CAGR of 6.8% (from $501M to $696M.
Online PC games are expected to grow from $2.53B to $3.66B, a CAGR of 7.6%.
Total console games are expected to to grow from $8.84B to $11B, a CAGR of 4.5%. Online/microtransaction console games revenue is the fastest growing part of console-related traditional gaming, rising with a CAGR of 17.8%
Beyond traditional games, social/casual gaming revenue will grow at a CAGR of 4.5%, reflecting a switch from browser-based to app-based revenue. Overall, the social/casual segment of gaming will be 12% of the total revenue in 2019.
Video game ad revenue is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 11.1%. Game ad revenues are stronger in the US than any other market because of the fragmented media landscape in the US, high digital video recorder ownership (which makes it easy to skip TV ads), high social network engagement, and low newspaper readership, all of which drives advertisers to seek out consumers in places like gaming.

eSports Viewership



Activate. October 2016.
Tech and Media Outlook 2017.”


71.5 million people watched competitive gaming in 2013.

Phillippa Warr. April 9, 2014. “eSports in numbers: Five mind-blowing stats.” Redbull.com


Note: In the following poll, esports viewership makes up a small percentage of overall gaming video content, which includes trailers, reviews, walkthroughs, etc.

Worldwide gaming video content audience (all types of content, defined below)
2015 – 486 million
2017 – 790 million (forecast)

US gaming video content audience
2015 – 125 million
2017 – 181 million

Poll respondents had viewed gaming-related video content at least once in the past year.

Type of gaming video content viewed by US internet users, May 2015 (% of Respondents)
69% – trailers promoting upcoming video game relases
54% – humorous clips/montages of gameplay recorded by other players
53% – walkthroughs to help players complete a game, level, or side quest
52% – reviews (professional or amateur)
37% – gameplay with commentary by online personalities
33% – live streams
29% – peer-to-peer privately shared content
24% – esports (professional gaming)

src: SuperData Research via: eMarketer, July 20, 2015. “Consumers, Advertisers Enter Gaming Video Zone.


2015 – 150MM will have viewed an eSports tournament

Average 12-month video game spending by platform, for an average eSports viewer (amongst North American PC Gamers)
$176 – PC Games (client-based)
$111 – Console Games
$29 – Handheld Games
$19 – Mobile Games

versus the same 12-month spending for eSports non-participants
$125 – PC Games
$93 – Console Games
$16 – Handheld Games
$18 – Mobile Games

Note: Not sure if “non-participants” are gamers who haven’t played competitively in eSports matches, or gamers who don’t watch esports.

src: Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR), November 1, 2015. “ESports is Not a Fad


About half of eSports viewers spend 1-4 hours per week watching esports. 20% watches for less than 1 hour per week, 20% watches 5-9 hours.

src: EEDAR. 2015. “ESports Consumer Analysis Whitepaper (report sample).” p.19

EEDAR contact: Cooper Waddell cwaddell@eedar.com

Global Esports Audience

Last year (2014) the World Championship finals for a fantasy-strategy game called League of Legends drew 45,000 spectators to the Seoul World Cup Stadium to watch 16 teams from South Korea and China battle it out for a $2.13 million prize pool, with a further 27 million people watching online.

Major League Gaming (MLG), founded 2003
chairman, Mike Sepso

MLGtv attracts 27 million viewers a month, drawing its revenue largely from mainstream consumer advertisers – fast-food chains, grooming products, car manufacturers. Sepso puts the company’s value “in the hundreds of millions” of dollars.

The top-earning CoD player is 22-year-old Matt Haag, who plays for Team Optic under the name NaDeSHoT. Three years ago Haag was flipping burgers in McDonald’s. He now has 1.6 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, 1.1 million followers on Twitter, and reportedly earns close to $1 million a year.

With a basic salary, and money made from weekly online tournaments, players can make $30,273 – $45,409 a year. The real money lies in sponsorship and the advertising revenue to be made from building up a fan-base by streaming on YouTube or Twitch.

SBRnet. May 1, 2015. “Video Games Becoming a Spectator Sport





Activate. October 2016.
Tech and Media Outlook 2017.” Slides 66, 80.


NewZoo is a video game and esports research firm. Below are excerpts from both their 2016 and 2015 reports. The 2015 report makes some interesting scale comparisons to traditional sports.

2016 updates:





2015 excerpts:

In terms of audience, the report shows that the number of esports Enthusiasts will jump from 89 million last year (2014) to 145 million in 2017. Another 190 million will watch esports competitions occasionally, showing that competitive gaming has evolved to a spectator sport with a fan base comparable to that of Volleyball, American Football or Ice Hockey.

In terms of fans, there are 2.2 billion people globally who consider themselves to be interested or very interested in sports and of these, 1.6 billion actively participate in at least one sport. This is comparable to the 1.7 billion people that play games. On a global scale, the number of esports enthusiasts compares well to mid-tier traditional sports. Swimming and ice hockey for example have 76 million and 94 million global fans respectively, similar to the 89 million esports enthusiasts. By 2017, the global number of esports fans will come close to that of American football.


On a global scale, there are 2.2 billion sports fans who each generate an average of $56 per year. The average revenue for individual sports is anywhere from $20 upwards. Esports enthusiasts on the other hand, currently generate an average of $2.2 per person per year, without game revenues taken into account. Our current esports revenue projections use a conservative $3.2 average revenue per enthusiast figure for 2017. With growth mainly driven by a larger audience, global esports revenues will still rise to $451 million in two years from now. This renders esports comparable to a top 10 sport or globally renowned leagues like the NFL or Champions League. If the average revenue per enthusiast grows faster and jumps to $7, esports will be a billion dollar business by 2017 with even more growth potential going forward. Drawing from the comparison with traditional sports, the report highlights which factors will determine the pace of growth of the esports Economy.


NewZoo. January 25, 2016. “Global Esports Market Report: Revenues To Jump To $463M In 2016 As Us Leads The Way.
NewZoo. February 16, 2015. “The Esports Economy Will Generate At Least $465 Million In 2017.
11-page preview

eSports Earnings

esportsearnings.com tracks prize earnings, and player, team, and country rankings. Historic data goes back to 1998. Information is sourced from the community, but there is a strict requirement for data to be cited. I cross-referenced a few of the figures against data reported by Redbull’s esports reporting, and the figures were very close.

Data is collected in the following Google Doc.

This database has been cited in reporting by The Verge.

Posted by cc on May 20, 2016 at 7:18 pm | comment count

Sports Fandom, Spending & Spectatorship, Fantasy Sports


Most of the data reported here are historic, although I’ve found a couple forecasts from Pricewaterhouse Coopers for stadium building, and ticket and merchandise sales, 2008-2019.

A small chart contrasting data on sports attendance spending vs. consumer confidence 2011-2015 was published by Rich Luker, who runs ESPN’s annual Sports Poll. I suspect we could find more historic data for both lines to create an expanded chart.

I’ve found several polls describing sports fandom. For the most port, the polls give percentages of respondents, rather than raw figures. Harris’s poll presents the oldest data I’ve seen (back to 1985), although I believe ESPN’s poll has been running for longer than it’s published data would suggest (chart shows data back to 2000, but I think the polls have been running since the mid ’90s).

I’ve collected major league attendance for the NBA and MLB are available back to 1981, and for the NFL back to 1994. Older NFL attendance available is probably available, somewhere.

Team Marketing Report publishes a “Fan Cost Index” which tracks the prices of tickets, as well as other typical spectator expenditures (eg: hot dogs, beer, etc). I’ve found their data for NFL ticket prices back to 2006 via Statista. We should try to contact them for more data.


Sports Fandom



In 2015, 23.4 percent of Americans spent on sports at least once a month, a 6 percent decline from the average 24.9 percent for 2011-14. This trend, if it continues for five more years, will reduce the number of people spending monthly by 10 million.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which measures consumer confidence, rose by 21 percent in 2015 compared with 2011-14, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 24 percent in 2015 compared with 2011-14. These three sources of data, showing similar growth, indicate a context where more frequent spending in sports should have taken place. And generally, for more than 22 years, engagement in sports has mirrored the performance of the economy and personal finances. We noticed a shift in those trends around 2011, when it seemed the economy was perking up.

The percentage of American sports fans remained near a very stable 88 percent from 2011-15, but avid fans declined by 2 percent in 2015, and those who placed a high priority on time and investment in sports interests dropped 4 percent. Similarly, 4 percent more Americans said they were “less interested in sports than they were the year before” in 2015, compared with the 2011-14 average.

Rich Luker. February 22, 2016. “Sports spending not on pace with economic growth.” Sports Business Daily. contact: rich@lukerco.com


Harris has run an annual poll at least since 1985 asking what Americans’ favorite sports are. In this chart, data is only available for the latest year (2014), but we may be able to obtain figures for the preceeding years by contacting Harris.


Harris Poll, via
Cork Gaines. February 20, 2015. “The popularity of the NFL is starting to fall in the US.” Business Insider


A much simpler, semi-regular Gallup poll, 2001-2015, simply asks if people consider themselves sports fans.


Jeffrey M. Jones. June 17, 2015. “As Industry Grows, Percentage of U.S. Sports Fans Steady.” Gallup.

The ESPN Sports Poll, run annually since 1994 by Rich Luker, defines percentages of fans and avid fans, and, by subtraction, non-fans. This particular graphic only give data back to 2000, but we may be able to ask Luker (or his colleague) for older data.


Jess3 (the graphic’s designer), 2015.
Using ESPN Sports Poll data, collected by Rich Luker and Chad Menefee. Contact: chad@lukerontrends.com


The ESPN Sports Poll has also been tracking college sports fans at least since 2000. This chart shows percentage and numeric data for 2000-2010.


Kenneth Cortsen. August 16, 2013.
IMG’s Capitalization On Sport Stars And Other Assets – IMG College Is Meant For Success.

Spending And Spectatorship

Pricewaterhouse Coopers publishes an annual 5-year-forecast of sports industry figures, including gate revenues and merchandising. The publications also include data for the previous five years. Data for 2008-2019 are freely available in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions, and I’ve aggregated the gate revenues and merchandising data in the following Google Sheet:

src: Adam W. Jones (editor). “PwC Sports Outlook.” PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
contact: adam.w.jones@us.pwc.com
November 2013 edition
October 2014 edition
October 2015 edition


Super Bowl Viewership


Stephen Bronars. February 2012.
The Super Bowl and the Oscars.”

TV By the Numbers and Nielsenwire


TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the United States from 1990 to 2016 (in millions)

Statista. Accessed November 2016.
TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the United States from 1990 to 2016 (in millions).”



Professional League Game Attendance

ESPN collects historic game data, including attendance, going back to 2001, for several professional sports. However, Peter Von Allmen, an academic economist and current president of the North American Association of Sports Economists (NAASE), referred me to the [sport]-reference.com websites as an excellent source for historic sports data going back much further than ESPN’s data.

I’ve compiled the [sport]-reference.com data describing the number of teams and attendance (total regular season, and average per game attendance, in some cases) for the NBA, MLB, and NFL in the following Google Sheet:

Note: NBA data is collected for 1981-2016. Attendance figures are actually available going back to 1946, but only for a couple teams per season.

[Click on a season date, then Summary, then Miscellaneous Stats to find attendance figures.]
[Click on a season date, then Other, then Attendance & Misc.]
[Click on “NFL” next to a season date, then Other, then Attendance]
NOTE: The tallies on the NFL site are incorrect, so I’ve re-calculated them

Other sources:

NHL attendance
ESPN has data back to 2001
but HockeyDB.com has league totals data back to 1994
and average home game data older than that
Average home game data

MLB and NFL data is available from ESPN, going back to 2001

NCAA Football
total fans per year 1954-2014

src: National Football Foundation, June 2015
2014 Report: Passion for College Football Remains Strong.”


Average NFL ticket price, 2006 – 2015
2006 – 62.38
2007 – 67.11
2008 – 72.2
2009 – 74.99
2010 – 76.47
2011 – 77.34
2012 – 78.38
2013 – 81.54
2014 – 84.43
2015 – 85.83

via Statista, citing TMR 2006 to 2015
(TMR: Team Marketing Report)

Major league facilities


src: Adam W. Jones (editor). “PwC Sports Outlook.” October 2014. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. P.4
contact: adam.w.jones@us.pwc.com

Fantasy Sports

Number of fantasy sports players by year (Figure 2)

1988 500,000
1991-1994 1 – 3 Million
2003 15.2 Million
2004 13.5 Million
2005 12.6 Million
2006 18 Million
2007 19.4 Million
2008 29.9 Million
2009 28.4 Million
2010 32 Million
2011 35.9 Million
2014 41.5 Million
2015 56.8 Million

Percentage of fantasy sports players compared to the general population of the United States, age 12+ (Figure 1)
Total – 14%
Adults – 13%
Teens – 18%
Male – 19%
Female – 8%
College Education – 18%
No College Education – 10%
HH Income $50k+ – 16%
HH income <$50K – 10%

On average, fantasy sports players (age 18+) spend $465 on league-related costs, single-player challenge games, and league-related materials over a 12-month period. Up from $95 in 2012 (src: press release).

src: Fantasy Sports Trade Association. “Industry Demographics.” Accessed May 4, 2016.
press release for the recent research

Posted by cc on May 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm | comment count

Historic Variety of Sports


To get a sense for the growth in the variety of commonly practiced sports, I considered which organizations would have been tracking individual sports in an official capacity. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a fairly long modern history, but sports included in the Olympic Games are restricted by the organizations rules, so while the IOC list certainly includes many of the most popular sports, and reflects some shifts over the last century, it certainly does not include many emerging but popular sports, or sports that are very popular in a particular region (like American football). I wrote to a number of organizations that lobby on behalf of sports that may have international federations, but lack representation in the Olympics, but I was not able to obtain historic data from any of them. I also thought to consult lists maintained by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), but these share limitations similar to the sports represented by the IOC. At the other end of the spectrum, I found one website, Topend Sports, which has a fantastic list of sports from around the world which seems quite comprehensive, but unfortunately offers no date information (either documenting when the sport was created or when it became popular).


International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Some context on IOC terminology and rules:
The IOC uses the terms “event,” “discipline” and “sport” to organize their athletic competitions. An event is any competition that results in the awarding of medals, such as the women’s 100-meter backstroke. The discipline of swimming, which comprises various events like the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, is a branch of the sport aquatics.

For a sport or discipline to be considered for the Summer Olympics, it must demonstrate popularity among both genders in various parts of the world. Men from at least 75 countries and women from at least 50 countries should practice a given sport on four continents.

When determining which sports to include in an Olympic program, at least 25 of the sports offered must come from the 28 sports established by the IOC. Up to three additional sports may be added that are not from among this pre-established group.

Greg Soltis. July 27, 2012. “The Incredible Evolution of the Olympics.” LiveScience.

After writing to the International Society of Olympic Historians, I was referred to Bill Malon, who maintains an extensive Excel document with data from 1896-2012, including:
Number of Events per Sport by Year (by gender)
Total # of Events by Year (broken down by gender)
Total # Sports by Year (broken down by gender)
List of Sports and Events by Year (by gender)
List and Total # of Countries by Year

Mr. Malon’s Excel file (originally shared as OGCompShort.xls) is available in this Google Sheets document:

A simple list of the number of sports in each Olympic Games by year is also maintained by Topend Sports: Olympic Games Sports Changes. The list notes which sports were added or dropped in each Games.


Agencies That Support the IOC

An association composed of autonomous and independent international sports federations and other international organisations contributing to sport in various fields.

SportAccord promotes sports, increases its and its members’ recognition by the Olympic Movement, and organizes multi-sports games.

To be a Member, an organization must group together the majority of the National Federations throughout the world practicing its sport and regularly hold international competitions. To be an Associate Member, an organization can either group together the activities of several Members or National Olympic Committees for the purpose of organizing competitions, or have objectives recognized by the Council as benefiting the other Members of the Association.

(Previously known as GAISF, the General Association of International Sports Federations.)

src: SportAccord. “2014 Statutes.” Accessed April 7, 2016.

Members list – 106 members

Contact: sportaccord@sportaccord.com
EMAILED 4/13. No reply.

Also sent inquires to The Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF), info@arisf.org, and the Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS), contact form. No reply from them either.


Sports counted in the NFHS Annual Survey, 1969-2015

Counting each sport that gets its own major subject heading in the tables. For example, “Skiing — Alpine” and “Skiing — Cross Country” count for a total of two sports. However, “Football — 11-player”, which often includes three subheadings (“6-player,” “8-player,” and “9-player”), is only counted once. “Flag Football,” with its own heading is counted separately from “Football — 11-Player.”
For example:


Note: Each of the annual surveys are freely available, but this is a sampling of every five years.

1969/70 – 29 sports
1975/76 – 31 sports
   Added: Archery, Drill Teams, Table Tennis, Weightlifting
   Dropped: Rowing, Rugger
1980 – 36 sports
   Added: Canoeing, Crew, Eskimo Games, Judo, Soft Tennis, second Softball category
   Dropped: Rugby
1985 – 31 sports
   Dropped: Curling, Drill Teams, Eskimo Games, Soft Tennis, Table Tennis
   Added: Equestrian, Heptathalon
   Condensed to one entry each: Softball, Track & Field
1990 – 32 sports
   Added: Other
1995 – 38 sports
   Added: Adapted Sports, Competitive Spirit Squads, Team Tennis,
   De-condensed: Skiing, Softball, Track & Field
2000 – 35 sports
   Condensed: Skiing, Softball, Track & Field
2004/05 – 41 sports
   Added: 4 Dance categories, Flag Football, Skiing category, Snowboarding
   Dropped: Decathalon, Heptathalon, Pentathalon, Water Polo
   De-condensed: Skiing, Softball, Track & Field
2009/10 – 42 sports
   Added: Air Riflery, Rodeo, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo
   Condensed: 3 Dance categories, 2 Skiing categories
2014/15 – 53 sports
   Added: Boce, Dance category, Decathalon, Heptathalon, Kayaking, Mixed Coed Valleyball,
   Mountain Biking, Rugby, Sailing, Soft Tennis, Surfing,

The National Federation Of State High School Associations.
1969-2014 High School Athletics Participation Survey Results.” Pp. 1, 23, 56, 112, 176, 258, 344, 418, 501.
2014-15 High School Athletics Participation Survey.” Pp. 1-2


International Sports Federations

Wikipedia – List of international sports federations
Includes federations recognized by IOC, ASOIF, AIOWF, ARISF, IPC, and SportAccord. Many of the federations have Wikipedia pages showing the date of creation.

Topend Sports also maintains a list of international sport federations, sorted alphabetically by sport. Current total count: 171.
Note: No links to the federation websites. Links to internal pages about the sport – no date information, just short, general descriptions of the sports.


More Comprehensive Sports Lists

Topend Sports maintains a “Complete List of Sports from Around the World.”

The list currently has 806 entries, but no date information. Separately, they maintain a list of “Ancient and Extinct Sports.”

Topend Sports also has an interesting list of “New and Unusual Sports” submitted by readers, but I think many of the sports are just theoretical.


Other Resources

North American Association of Sports Economists

Journal of Sports Management
current editor: David Shilbury
Published by the North American Society For Sports Management (NASSM)
Indexed in Human Kinetic Journals

North American Society for Sport History (NASSH)

Sport In American History
group blog – primarily academic contributors
links page points to other orgs

The LA84 Foundation operates the largest sports research library in North America, the Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center. It is a state-of-the-art research facility and learning center dedicated to the advancement of sports knowledge and scholarship. The Foundation also maintains a sizable collection of historic sport art and artifacts much of which was inherited from the former Helms Athletic Foundation Sports Halls of Fame. Its digital holdings, accessible to the public through its website, include not only a complete set of Olympic Official Reports, but also the full run of the Journal of Olympic History and its predecessor, Citius, Altius, Fortius through 2012.
[Description from ISOH]
NOTE: reference queries involving research charged $40/hour

Here’s an index to some older sports history journals available online. Seems like perhaps this should not be public, but there it is! And the full text of articles are available, but difficult to navigate (no search).

Sports and Recreation Participation


Forecast data for sports and recreation participation seems rare.

The USDA Forest Service has published a few 50-year forecasts of outdoor recreation participation. The forecasts are based on data from it’s semi-regular National Survey on Recreation and the Environment. However, the only national-level forecast I’ve seen was published in 1999. I’ve emailed the authors to inquire if more recent national forecasts have been made. (Forecasts for the southern region of the US have been made as recently as 2013).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes 10-year job outlook and employment change forecasts for professional athletes. The latest figures were published December 2015.

Beyond these two forecasts, I’ve found a couple sources for historic sports participation data: the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s “Sports Participation in America” and ”Trends in Team Sports Report” (tidbits available through press releases going back to 2007); The Physical Activity Council Report (data for 2010-2015 available, possibly going back to 2000 – emailed for more info); United Health Foundation’s annual “American’s Health Rankings” survey; the National Federation of State High School Associations’ “Athletics Participation Survey” (annual data available 1971-2014).

Data and Excerpts

Non-Professional Adult Participation

The most significant forecast data I’ve found comes from the USDA Forest Service, via a 1999 publication. Later forecasts have been made for specific regions of the US. This is the only set of national-level forecasts I’ve found.

The publication gives projections of future recreation participation (by millions of participants aged 16 and over) and consumption (by millions of days annually and by millions of primary purpose trips taken) at lo-year intervals beginning in 2000 and ending in 2050. Projections for 24 specific outdoor activities and sports are grouped as following: winter, water, wildlife, dispersed land, and developed land. The projections are given as indexes, based on the year 1995.

Two types of regional cross-sectional models were used:
– a logistic regression model (for participation)
– a negative binomial form of a count data model (for consumption)

I’ve aggregated the forecasts in this table.

The data in these projections comes from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE), which has been collected since 1960 (originally as the National Recreation Survey). The survey has been conducted in 1960, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1982-83, 1994-95, 1999-2001, 2005-2011 (although this report only reflects data through the 94-95 survey).

Src: J.M. Bowker, Donald B.K. English, H. Ken Cordell. 1999. “Projections Of Outdoor Recreation Participation To 2050.” In Outdoor Recreation in American Life.

Note: Emailed the authors, Bowker and Cordell March 14, 2016, to inquire about subsequent national-level projections. No reply received.


Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) reports

The SFIA (formerly the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, or SGMA) has published an annual report called “Sports Participation in America” since 2000 (data going back to 1999). The report describes participation levels in over 100 sports, recreation, and outdoor activities. Each report includes a general breakdown of the number of Americans aged 6 and older who participated in at least one of the covered sports frequently, occassionally (later: regularly or casually), or did not participate in any.

Here’s an example of the chart from the report published in 2004:
SGMA. 2004. “Sports Participation in America: 2004 Edition.” file name: Sports Part in Am 2004.pdf

I’ve seen data like the above from 1999-2003, and 2008, which is aggregated in this table, in columns C, and E-F. [Sources given in the comments for each cell.] The participation reports also gives a variety of other statistics describing the growth in participation in individual sports, including participation differences correlated with demographic characteristics.

In addition to the participation report, SFIA also publishes data describing core participants in team sports (”Trends in Team Sports Report” — tidbits available through press releases going back to 2007). The distinction of “core” indicates frequent and regular players (the threshold varies by sport/activity). This is the largest collection of core sports participation I’ve found:

Team Sports Core Participation (in thousands)

click for larger
Via: Hotel News Now, May 28, 2013

Note: Emailed Corey Bockhaus, cbockhaus@sfia.org, research@sfia.org, 3/14 to ask about older and more recent data like above. Hoping he can fill the gap in general participation data from 2004-2007, and 2009+.


2016 Physical Activity Council Report

Annual study tracking participation in over 120 sports. The PAC report gives overall statistics (percentages and raw figures), as well as sport-specific statistics (raw figures, and annual change percentages).

“The overall levels of inactivity decreased marginally in the last 12 months from 28.3% of Americans age six and older in 2014 to 27.7% in 2015. However, there are still 81.6 million inactive Americans.”


“Inactivity decreased for most age groups, with 13 to 17 year olds having the biggest drop (1.4%) and 35 to 44 year olds having the lowest decrease (0.2%) in 2015. While those Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 remained flat in inactivity, there was a gradual increase in inactivity for 55 to 64 year olds.”

212.6 million “actives” taking part in a wide range of sports and fitness activities in 2015, a slight increase from 209.3 actives in 2014.

Total Participation Rate by Activity Category, 2015
Fitness Sports 61.5%
Outdoor Sports 48.4%
Individual Sports 34.8%
Team Sports 23.1%
Racquet Sports 13.5%
Water Sports 14.2%
Winter Sports 7.4%


Activity Category Segmented by Generations, 2015
Individual Sports Racquet Sports Team Sports Outdoor Sports Winter Sports Water Sports Fitness Sports
Gen Z (2000+) 48.2% 18.8% 58.8% 61.8% 13.1% 17.5% 50.6%
Millennials (1980-1999) 43.6% 20.2% 31.8% 57.4% 12.2% 20.3% 66.7%
Gen X (1965-1979) 36.9% 13.4% 17.9% 51.4% 7.0% 14.8% 66.2%
Boomers (1945-1964) 24.1% 7.1% 6.4% 38.6% 2.9% 9.2% 60.0%


Fitness and Activity-Related Spending over a 5-year Span, 2015
(% of people who spent on)
Sports/recreation footwear 45.3%
Sports/recreation clothing 44%
Outdoor recreation activities 39.5%
Sports/recreation equipment 34.9%
Gym/membership fees 29.3%
Travel to take part in sports & recreation 28.1%
Team sports outside of school 25%
Team sports at school 20.2%
Individual sports events 19.7%
Lessons/instruction/sports camps 19.3%
Winter sports 17.9%

Based on 32,658 online interviews with a 95% confidence level. A weighting technique was used to balance the data to reflect the total US population ages six and above. The total population figure used was 294,141,894 people ages six and older.

“Inactivity” is defined to include those participants who reported no physical activity in 2015 and an additional
18 sports/fitness activities that require minimal to no physical exertion.

Contributions from International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, The National Golf Foundation, The Outdoor Foundation, The Snowsports Industries America, The Sports and Fitness Industry Association, The Tennis Industry Association, and United States Tennis Association

The report indicates that data have been collected since 2000, but the report only shows figures going back to 2010.

Note: I’ve emailed to inquire about pre-2010 data (March 9, 2016, info@sportsmarketingsurveysusa.com).

Src: Physical Activity Council. March 1, 2016. “2016 Participation Report.”


Adults reporting no physical activity or
exercise outside of work in last 30 days
2015 22.6%
2014 25.3%
2013 22.9%
2012 26.2%
2011 23.9%
2010 23.8%
2009 24.6%
2008 22.6%
2007 22.6%
2006 23.8%
2005 22.5%
2004 22.7%
2003 24.1%
2002 25.4%
2001 26.7%
2000 27.7%
1999 27.7%
1998 27.8%
1997 27.8%

Src: United Health Foundation. “United States Physical Inactivity (1997-2015).” Accessed March 16, 2016.


Professional Participation

BLS – Athletes and Sports Competitors

Median Pay – $43,350/year
Number of Jobs – 13,700
Job Outlook 2014-2024 – 6% (as fast as average for all occupations)
Employment change 2014-2024 – 800 more jobs
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Athletes and Sports Competitors.” Summary. December 17, 2015.

Year Total Employment
1999 10,620
2000 9,920
2001 10,520
2002 10,400
2003 11,840
2004 12,250
2005 12,230
2006 12,500
2007 12,670
2008 13,960
2009 13,620
2010 12,660
2011 12,630
2012 12,450
2013 13,880
2014 11,520
2015 11,710

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics. “OES Data.” 1999-May 2015.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics. “27-2021: Athletes and Sports Competitors.”


Student/Youth Participation

The National Federation Of State High School Associations has conducted its annual “Athletics Participation Survey” since 1971. The survey is completed by high schools with membership in the NFHS and its member associations.

Src: National Federation of State High School Associations. “2014-15 High School Athletics Participation Survey Results.” Page 55 (page 3 of this PDF).

Press release for 2014-15 school year available here.
“Based on figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia, the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,807,047 – an increase of 11,389 from the previous year.”

Participation data for recent individual years available are available on the NFHS website at the “Participation Statistics” page.

Note: 3/9 Emailed Bruce Howard to ask what percentage of high school students participate in sports, and what percentage of high schools participate in their survey.


Among 6- to 17-year-olds, the average number of team sports played per participant has fallen 5.9 percent in the last five years, dropping from 2.14 to 2.01, according to the SFIA.

Tracking The Changes In Youth Sports Participation
(Participants by ages 6-17, thousands)
2009 2014 % Change
Baseball 7,012 6,711 -4.3%
Basketball 10,404 9,694 -6.8%
Field hockey 438 370 -15.5%
Football (tackle) 3,962 3,254 -17.9%
Football (touch) 3,005 2,032 -32.4%
Gymnastics 2,510 2,809 11.9%
Ice hockey 517 743 43.7%
Lacrosse 624 804 28.8%
Rugby 150 301 100.7%
Soccer (indoor) 2,456 2,172 -11.6%
Soccer (outdoor) 8,360 7,656 -8.4%
Softball (fast-pitch) 988 1,004 1.6%
Softball (slow-pitch) 1,827 1,622 -11.2%
Track and field 2,697 2,417 -10.4%
Volleyball (court) 3,420 2,680 -21.6%
Volleyball (sand/beach) 532 652 22.6%
Wrestling 1,385 805 -41.9%

Src: SFIA, via Sports Business Daily, “2014 Trends in Team Sports,” August 10, 2015

Press release for the 2013 Trends in Team Sports available here
[no press releases for more recent reports]
“Compared to 2011, which saw an increase in only 5 of the 24 sports, the surge in core participation in the most current U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report is proof of the growing trend of specialization in team sports. While there are more quality participants (core), the report also reveals the decrease in overall (casual) team sports participants over the last five years. Since 2008, team sports have lost 16.1 million participants or 11.1% of all team participants, measured by those who played at least once a year.”

2007 Edition excerpts
“While 31.6 million U.S. children (age 6-17) participate in team sports on a ‘frequent’, ‘regular’, or ‘casual’ basis, nearly 19 million U.S. children do not participate in team sports at all.”

“900,000 17-year olds played basketball in 2006 which means 17.9% of all 17-year olds played basketball in 2006.”
Src: SFIA. 2007. “U.S. Trends in Team Sports 2007 Edition.”

Future of Sports

Src: USA Today

A report consulting leading futurists presents a picture of what professional sports might be like in the next 25 years. Predictions are made in three increments (1-5 years, 5-10 years, 10-25 years), but the editors stress that the report only describes a possible future, not a most likely scenario. It is intended to be a conversation starter, and should not be read as a high-confidence forecast. The report covers eleven facets of the industry, including facilities, venues, players, fans, etc. The report was commissioned by the operator of a global food service and hospitality company and owner of a major professional team.

The full report is available for free, but here are highlights by chapter:


1-5 years: genetic screening
5-10 years: genetic enhancements
10-25 years: natural & enhanced athletes

“Safe and detectable drugs that boost key physiological factors to specific, pre-determined amounts will be legal and will level the playing field for all. Success will be determined more by character, teamwork, strategy, and the mental edge than by the genetic lottery. In this sense, sports will become a purer test than we have today.”

The carefully managed genetic enhancements might allow for:
increased red blood cell count for better oxygen delivery
stamina increased 60%
muscle mass doubled
pain pathways blocked
skeletal density increased

Enhanced athletes and natural athletes might compete in separate leagues, with the leagues meeting in championship games between natural and enhanced players.

All players will also be enhanced by courts/fields that increase performance.


1-5 years: demand for data flow (via smart phones, etc)
5-10 years: video advances
10-25 years: urban integration

Video walls in stadium architecture; on-field holographic replays, glasses-free 3D tech in luxury boxes; VR rides in the stadium for fans.

Smaller stadium footprints, enabled by self-driving self-parking cars and high-speed mass transit, allow stadiums to be built in city centers; modular/adaptable construction for variety of events; variety of fan areas.

More alcohol sales (enabled by driverless cars, mass transit); more security cameras, facial recognition.


1-5 years: the death of one-size-fits-all broadcasting (variety of consump options; Google likely buys rights for a major league)
5-10 years: divergence (news content comes from leagues, franchises, players, fans)
10-25 years: the convergence (fans re-integrate content from various sources and share)

Major networks lose control over content (to leagues, players, franchises, fans).
Influence of network commentators and journalists wanes due to social media access.
Major online platform (probably Google) buys multiyear broadcast rights for a league.

Fans access content from many sources all at once.
Fans integrate these streams into seamless, coherent, personalized viewing experiences.
Watch a game via VR headset from the perspective of your favorite player.

E-Sports and Fantasy Sports

1-5 years: talent ecosystem emerges
5-10 years: better controllers
10-25 years: indistinguishable remote and in-person gameplay

Celebrity gamers challenge traditional sports stars for adulation.
Pro sports leagues embrace gaming.
Talent eco-systems supporting esports (coaches, high school teams, ranking, etc).
Hand-held controllers replaced by body movement and sensors.
Tactile feedback interfaces and AR/VR enable remote play.

The Fan

1-5 years: increasingly responsive
5-10 years: fan-recorded content
10-25 years: increased fan input (extension of 1-5yr forecast above – more strategy decisions, like scouting)

Forced crowdsourcing of critical decisions, like whether to fire a player or coach after a scandal.

When every fan is wearing a high-quality video device, fans become a prime source for broadcast and replay material.

Team-designated ombudsmen will represent fans in major team decisions, and complex algorithms will predict fan reactions.

Extreme Adventure Sports

1-5 years: extreme sports league
5-10 years: robot experiments
10-25 years: sports zones

Extreme sports will adapt a more formalized competition format.

Robot trials will be run before humans perform to improve safety. Later, robotic exoskeletons and self-powered body suits further reduce injuries and death.

Designated competition areas in national wilderness areas.

Payments and Ticketing

1-5 years: move to digital
5-10 years: paper tickets go away (Apple establishes its own banking technology)
10-25 years: end of the line (no standing in lines for anything)

Leagues with their own digital currencies (probably NOT based on Bitcoin).

Seats chosen based on social media contacts, and social goals (families together, singles together, etc).

Fanbase Economics

1-5years: women’s sports apparel expansion
5-10 years: job displacement
10-25 years: increased displacement of low-end workforce

Marketing focuses more on upper-mid-class women as mid-class wealth wanes.

As more fans are priced out of live games, “third venues” emerge. AR enables life-size replays up close in 3D theatrical venues

The Future of Sports.” Josh McHugh, Po Bronson, Ethan Watters (editors). September 2015. Delaware North.

Singularity University (Paul Saffo, Salim Ismail, Aaron Frank), Kamran Rosen (reporting and research), Gary Bettman, Wendy Selig, Ted Leonsis, Future Cities Lab, Clay Coffey, Luke Bronson, Blaise Zerega, SF Elite Academy, Rick Abramson, Amy Latimer, Todd Merry, Chuck Moran, John Wentzell, Garrett Law, Peter White, Roger Noll, Mark Charles, Margaret Johnson

For background on the motivation for the report, see:
Bruins owner spearheads report on what sports will look like in 25 years.” Erik Brady. January 26, 2016. USA Today.


Many of the ideas above are echoed in a May 2015 article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In particular we’re already seeing line-optimization, seat-optimization, on-demand on-device replays, big growth in digital tickets, women and children as a key demographic.

Five Trends Shaping the Future of Sports.” Ian Chipman. May 2015. Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Posted by cc on February 5, 2016 at 10:34 pm | comment count