Major League Baseball recently held its quarterly Owners Meetings. And according to Paul Hagen of MLB.com, baseball and softball had nearly 25 million combined individuals participating in the sports this past year. This is the highest participation number of any sport in the United States.
This research was conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and the recent Participation Report showed the following:
- Baseball (18.1%), Ice Hockey (11.0%), Rugby (18.7%) and Swimming on a Team (26.9%) all saw significant one-year increases in casual participation.
- Overall baseball participation increased by 7.7 percent and slow-pitch softball participation increased by 8.1 percent in 2016, with casual participation in both baseball and slow-pitch softball showing the highest growth.
There was also a very slight drop in inactivity, but the research shows that is partly because of the population increase. The study also included a 34-percent increase in casual participation in baseball and slow-pitch softball over the last five years.
“The results of the SFIA report demonstrate that participation in baseball and softball is growing,” said Commissioner Rob Manfred to MLB.com. “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. Together, we will continue to work to provide memorable experiences for young people, especially those from underserved areas.”
The Play Ball initiative is a part of Major League Baseball’s mission to “inspire everyone to play ball,” beginning with the society’s youth.