We all know that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States. You don’t have to be a scholar to understand that. If you play it, you probably have a huge group of friends that you’ve either made on the courts or convinced to join you there. If you don’t play it, you almost definitely hear about how awesome it is, and how you should be playing it, at least once a day. Whoever runs pickleball’s marketing department is crushing it.
But what’s the second fastest growing sport in America? Or the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth? Where should we be dumping all our future sports related investments (of which I have none)? Thanks to the SFIA and ReCreate, have a list of the top 25 fastest-growing sports in the nation, based on an increase in participants from 2018 to 2022. We’ve listed the top 10 below.
10 Fastest Growing Sports In America
- Pickleball: 171.1% increse
- Alpine touring: 115% increse
- Winter fat biking: 69.4% increase
- Off-course golf: 67.5% increase
- Snowboard touring: 59.1% increase
- Skateboarding: 38.8% increase
- Trail running: 32.4% increase
- Tennis: 32.3% increase
- Surfing: 28.5% increase
- Recreational Kayaking: 23.1% increase
To be clear, when they say “alpine touring”, they’re referring to ski touring, and when they say “winter fat biking” they’re referring to fat tire biking. I don’t think anyone is all that surprised to see most of these sports on this list. Fat tire biking was a bit of a shock to me (I would think gravel bikes would be far above that, but maybe they aren’t considering that category), but it’s still not all that surprising.
As for ski touring and snowboard touring, you’d have to be a fool to shocked by the increase. Anyone who’s been in the backcountry over the past three years will tell you that there’s been a huge increase in people. We can see it with avalanche incidents alone.
Why These Sports?
I don’t really know what off-course golf is, and my short lived amateur tennis career ended back in middle school. But, based on this list, it appears that the more individual or very-small-group sports tend to be growing the most, with an emphasis on getting outside. Maybe it’s because of the whole pandemic thing, maybe it’s because of a sense of dread caused by climate change. You can check out the rest of the top 25 here, but I have a few more highlights below.
Snowboarding came in at 13th, indoor climbing popped onto the list at 15th, and sport/boulder climbing came in at 17th. Road biking (or “bicycling on a road/paved surface) can be found at 19th, and stand-up paddling (aka paddleboarding) took 22nd.
The most popular sports in the United States today, according to ReCreate, is… drumroll please… road biking, with 43.55 million participants!