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Sports Participants in Australia

Playing and watching sports in Australia is a very popular pastime. The number of people who watch and support certain sports does not always correspond to the number of people who participate in a certain sport. Below is a discussion and list of the numbers of participants in sports in Australia. The data sample is old and recent data would be expected to show quite different results, for example, soccer is much more popular among young kids around Australia.

The figures were taken from a publication by Active Australia (2000). The participation figures refer to persons aged 18 years and over for the period of 12 months during 1995-96. There is quite a difference between male and female participation in sport, see the separate lists below.

Total number of participants in sports in Australia (1995-96)

The numbers in the table below are for participation in both organized sports and physical activities. The original source had over 40 sports, though only the top-20 are shown here. The most popular in terms of participation for that time period (1995-96) was aerobics, which is rarely considered a sport. In fact, since the time of the study participation in aerobics has significantly declined.

In terms of organized sports, golf is the highest ranked, though golf is also for many a physical activity and recreation, not an organized sport. In terms of this study, those who play competitive golf can not be separated from those who have an occasional round of nine holes. I guess the same goes for the next ranked sport tennis, as not all tennis players will be participating in organized competition, some people just have a hit for fun and fitness.

Comparing this data to the list of spectators at Australian sports, there is quite a difference. According to the ABS, the sport that people in Australia most like to watch is Australian Rules Football, followed by Horse Racing and Rugby League. On this list, AFL was 13th, and Rugby League was 25th.

See more discussion about Australia's most popular sport.

Rank Sport total % males % females
1 aerobics 600,600 19 81
2 golf 442,800 78 22
3 tennis 317,000 43 57
4 lawn bowls 280,600 38 100
5 netball 278,800 13 87
6 swimming 166,600 40 60
7 cricket (outdoor) 164,300 95 5
8 Martial arts 163,700 55 45
9 basketball 161,200 58 42
10 Tenpin bowling 152,400 44 56
11 touch football 141,600 74 26
12 soccer 128,800 89 11
13 Aussie Rules 119,900 98 2
14 squash 108,300 61 39
15 Indoor cricket 93,100 82 18
16 fishing 88,900 82 18
17 volleyball 82,100 54 46
18 walking 77,800 32 68
19 dancing 77,500 17 83
20 Motor sports 72,700 90 10

Top-10 Sports and Physical Activities for Males and Females

rank Top Male Sports number Top Female Sports number
1 golf 344900 aerobics 488700
2 cricket (outdoor) 156100 lawn-bowls 280700
3 tennis 136000 netball 241400
4 Aussie Rules 117900 tennis 181000
5 soccer 114300 swimming 99200
6 aerobics 111900 golf 98000
7 lawn-bowls 105900 Tenpin bowling 84700
8 touch football 105400 Martial arts 73200
9 basketball 94300 basketball 66900
10 Martial arts 90500 dancing 64200


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Lists Extra

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