Football is the most followed sport in the world and is largely considered the most popular in terms of viewership. In England, it also has been historically the most popular team sport to participate in. In 2020, an estimated 1.9M people in England played football at least twice a month. As impressive as that number is it is actually more than 9% lower than in 2019 when 2.6M people participated in football and almost 20% less than 2016’s numbers.
Breaking it down by gender, in 2020 an estimated 1.7M men participated in football which is a significant decrease from 2016. Meanwhile, there was no statistically significant change from women’s participation in football, when in 2020, 204K women participated in football.
Increase Only Seen In Adventure Sports, Combat Sports And Walking Activities; Team Sports Declining
Among different activity groups only three areas saw a significant increase since 2016; Adventure Sports, Combat Sports and Walking activities. Adventure Sports participation increased by 25% since 2016 to 3.5M compared to 2.25M in 2016. Combat Sports saw an increase of 20% since 2016 for a total of 955K while walking activities increased by 11.4% to 20.38M. Notably, participation in team sports is down to 2.9M in 2020 compared to 3.47M in 2016 - a 16.6% decrease.
Men’s Participation In Team Sports Declining, Women’s Participation In Fitness Related Sports Increasing
Other team sports also suffered a significant drop in 2020 compared to 2016, especially among men. Cricket, for example, suffered a 20% decrease in 2020 compared to 2016, while Basketball (-18.63%) and Volleyball( -35.8%) also significantly decreased in men’s participation but experienced no significant change from women’s participation.
This is in contrast to fitness-related sports that have seen a significant increase in women’s participation since 2016. In 2020, over 5M women participated in fitness classes which are 21.7% of all women respondents. There were also 2.76M women who participated in Gym sessions which make up 12% of women respondents.