Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/1995   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Culture and Leisure >> Special Feature: A sporting nation

Special Feature: A sporting nation

The most popular organised sports in Australia are golf, netball and tennis.

Sport is an important part of Australian society. Involvement in sport is widely encouraged through schools, government funding and the media. Playing sport can provide benefit through healthy exercise and by encouraging team work. Sport also provides direct economic benefit to the country through production of goods and services, generation of tourism, and creation of employment opportunities.

In 1993, one-third of Australians aged 15 and over were involved in sport as players (3.1 million), non-players (0.5 million) or both players and non-players (0.9 million). More men than women were involved as both players and non-players. Fewer than 5% of people involved in sport had some paid involvement.


ABS sports surveys

Data for 1993 are from the Survey of Involvement in Sport. This survey measured the involvement of people aged 15 and over in sport during the 12 months ended March 1993. People could be involved as a player or non-player (e.g coach, instructor, teacher, referee, umpire, administrator or committee member) or both. Both social and competitive involvement were included for most sports, although there were a number of sports (e.g cycling, swimming) which were only included if undertaken competitively. Spectator involvement in sport was excluded.

Data for 1993-94 are from the Population Survey Monitors in August and November 1993, and February and May 1994. These surveys were used to establish winter and summer figures of sports participation for people aged 15 and over during the week prior to interview. People could participate as a player or non-player or both but not as a spectator. The larger of the winter and summer figures was taken as the annual participation figure. In this survey any physical activity organised by a club or association was defined as sport. It therefore included sports such as aerobics and orienteering as well as competition between individuals or teams.


Age of players
In 1993, at all ages a greater proportion of men than women played sport. Overall 35% of men played sport compared to 23% of women. Younger men and women were more likely to play sport than older men and women. 56% of men aged 15-24 played sport compared to 43% of men aged 25-34. In contrast 39% of women aged 15-24 and 28% aged 25-34 played sport. 20% of men and 12% of women aged 65 and over played sport.

Government programs and sporting organisations are increasingly encouraging older people to participate in sport. It is recognised that regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the likelihood of developing health problems such as hypertension, stress, heart disease and obesity which affect older people more than younger people1.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO PLAYED SPORT, 1993



Source: Survey of Involvement in Sport


State comparison of players
The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory had the highest proportions of people playing sport (34%) of all the states and territories. This was mainly due to the larger proportions of young people in the territories than in the states (see Population - State summary tables). The territories also had the greatest difference in the proportions of men and women playing sport. In both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory 43% of men played sport. The proportions for women were 26% and 24% respectively.

New South Wales had the lowest proportion of people playing sport (28%) of any state, but had the largest number of players (1.3 million) because of its population size.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO PLAYED SPORT, 1993

Men
Women
Persons
State/territory
%
%
%

New South Wales
34.6
21.2
27.8
Victoria
35.0
23.7
29.2
Queensland
35.0
24.1
29.5
South Australia
34.6
23.1
28.8
Western Australia
38.3
25.3
31.8
Tasmania
35.0
24.5
29.7
Northern Territory
42.5
24.2
33.6
Australian Capital Territory
43.1
25.7
34.3
Australia
35.3
23.1
29.1
'000
'000
'000
Total
2,382.1
1,581.5
3,963.6

Source: Survey of Involvement in Sport


Players and employment status
People employed part-time, particularly men, were more likely to play sport than anyone else. This is related to the higher proportion of young people who were employed part-time. In 1993, 46% of part-time employed men and 30% of part-time employed women were players. This compared to 38% of full-time employed men and 27% of full-time employed women.

Overall, employed men were more likely to play sport than unemployed men, 39% compared to 30%, but there was little difference in the proportions of employed and unemployed women who played sport, 28% and 25% respectively.

Men and women not in the labour force were the least likely to play sport, 28% and 18% respectively. However, 79% of those not in the labour force are aged 55 or over and they have low levels of sports participation.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO PLAYED SPORT, 1993

Men
Women
Labour force status
%
%

Employed
38.8
28.0
    Full-time
38.1
26.8
    Part-time
45.6
29.6
Unemployed
29.8
24.8
Not in the labour force
27.9
17.8
Total
35.3
23.1

Source: Survey of Involvement in Sport


Birthplace of players
People born in Australia were more likely to play sport than people born overseas. 40% of men and 27% of women born in Australia played sport, compared to 24% of men and 13% of women born overseas. Among the overseas born, those born in the main English speaking countries were twice as likely to play sport as those born in non-English speaking countries. The greater proportions of people playing sport who were born in Australia or the main English speaking countries may reflect the types of sport played in Australia.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO PLAYED SPORT, 1993

Men
Women
Birthplace
%
%

Australia
39.8
26.7
Overseas
23.6
13.1
    MESC(a)
31.4
19.9
    NESC(b)
18.3
8.4
Total
35.3
23.1

(a) Main English speaking countries.
(b) Non-English speaking countries.

Source: Survey of Involvement in Sport


Elite athletes
International sports competitions, especially the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, provide the opportunity for Australian athletes to compete with other world class athletes.

At the first Commonwealth Games in 1930, 11 men represented Australia and won 8 medals. In the 1994 games, 256 Australian athletes, 94 of whom were women, competed. In these games Australian athletes won 182 medals, the highest ever medal tally and the most medals per competitor since 1970. 87 of the medals were gold2.

Australia achieved its highest Olympic medal tally at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. In that year, 35 medals were won between 289 competitors. Australia had its largest representation of athletes at the Olympic Games in 1988 when 368 athletes competed.

The participation of Australian women in the Olympic Games has increased since 1948, with women comprising 33% of Australian competitors in 1992 in contrast to 12% of competitors in 1948. Australian women at the Olympic Games have also been more successful overall than Australian men, winning twice as many medals per competitor as men over the period 1948-92.

Although Australians have won more medals in the Commonwealth Games than the Olympic Games, the recent performance of Australian athletes has raised expectations of success in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The federal government has allocated $135 million dollars over the next six years for the development and training of Australian athletes for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games3.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES COMPETITORS(a)



(a) There were no Commonwealth Games in 1942 or 1946.

Source: Australian Sports Commission unpublished data

OLYMPIC GAMES COMPETITORS(a)



Source: Australian Sports Commission unpublished data


Types of sports played
Golf is the most popular organised sport that Australians participate in. In 1993-94, on average, 384,600 people, of whom 79% were men, participated in golf in a one week period. The next most popular sports were netball (319,000) and tennis (299,300).

The most popular sports for men were golf, outdoor cricket, basketball and Australian rules football. Twice as many men participated in golf as in Australian rules football. For women netball was the most popular sport participated in, then tennis and aerobics.

More people aged 15-19 participated in basketball than in any other sport. Netball was the next most popular sport for this age group. Netball was the most participated in sport by women aged 15-19.

The most popular sports among those aged 55 and over were golf and lawn bowls. Lawn bowls was the sixth most participated in sport for all people.

PEOPLE WHO PLAYED SPORT, 1993-94

Men
Women
Type of sport
'000
Type of sport
'000

Golf
303.9
Netball
287.1
Outdoor cricket
193.9
Tennis
162.1
Basketball
153.4
Aerobics
98.8
Australian rules football
151.4
Golf
80.7
Outdoor soccer
147.2
Basketball
77.7
Tennis
137.1
Lawn bowls
75.2
Lawn bowls
115.3
Tenpin bowling
64.0
Touch football
106.2
Swimming
60.9
Indoor cricket
91.6
Squash
46.3
Squash
78.5
Touch football
39.2

Source: Population Survey Monitor


Non-players
In 1993, one in ten Australians (1.4 million people) were involved in sport as non-players. About three in five of these non-players were also players. Overall, 12% of men and 9% of women were involved in sport as non-players, 4% as non-players only and the remainder (8% of men and 5% of women) as players and non-players .

Involvement as non-players was greatest for people aged 35-44, 18% of men and 16% of women. This is likely to be due to the non-playing involvement of parents supporting their children's sporting interests. Only 4% of men and 2% of women aged 65 and over were non-players.

Non-players may be involved in one or more roles. The most common role, in which 44% of non-players were involved, was as an administrator or committee member. 37% of non-players were coaches, instructors or teachers, and 30% were referees or umpires.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE INVOLVED AS NON-PLAYERS, 1993



Source: Survey of Involvement in Sport


Why people did not play sport
The most common reason for not playing sport, given by 39% of men and 43% of women was injury or illness. Men were more likely than women not to play sport because of a sport's injury (19% compared to 13%) and women were more likely than men not to play sport because of an illness (20% compared to 11%). 27% of men and 20% of women said they had no time or were too busy to play sport.

Although women were five times more likely than men not to play sport due to lack of child care, fewer than 3% of women gave this as their main reason. Despite the costs associated with sport, such as membership, equipment and clothing, fewer than 1% of people said that expense or cost was the main reason they did not play sport.

MAIN REASONS FOR NOT PLAYING SPORT, 1993-94

Men
Women
Reasons
%
%

Illness or injury
39.4
43.3
    Sport injury
18.6*
12.9*
    Illness
10.6*
19.7*
    Other health problems
10.2*
10.7*
No time/too busy
26.7
19.8
Weather problems
7.5*
* *
Other
26.5
32.8
Total
100.0
100.0

Source: Population Survey Monitor (annual average)


Spectators
During 1994-95, on average, 17% of people aged 18 and over paid to watch a sporting event in a month. Paying to watch a sporting event was more common in winter (21%) than in summer (14%) due to the differences in the type of spectator sports played through the year. Over the year, men were more likely than women, and younger people more likely than older people, to have been paying spectators. Among men, those aged 18-24 were most likely to have been paying spectators at sporting events (27%) followed by those aged 25-39 (25%). Among women, those aged 18-24 were most likely to have been paying spectators (22%) followed by those aged 25-39 (16%).

In 1992, men aged 15 and over who attended sporting matches as both paying or non-paying spectators spent 2 hours 39 minutes attending compared to 2 hours 19 minutes spent by women. Both men and women attended more sport on the weekend than weekdays4.

During 1994-95, on average, 18% of people aged 18 years and over wanted to be a paying spectator at a sporting event but were unable to. Most of these were men (63%). For both men and women the most common reason for not attending, given by 45% of men and 34% of women who wanted to attend, was that they had no time available.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO WERE PAYING SPECTATORS AT SPORTING EVENTS, 1993-94

Men
Women
Persons
Age groups (years)
%
%
%

18-24
27.0
22.0
24.5
25-39
24.6
16.0
20.3
40-54
22.0
15.3
18.6
55 and over
12.8
5.8
9.0
Total
21.2
13.8
17.5
'000
'000
'000
Total
1,458.9
1,021.2
2,480.1

Source: Population Survey Monitor (annual average)


People with a disability
In 1993, 38% of people with a disability who were able to leave their homes were involved in sport, either as a player, non-player or spectator. Men with a disability had greater involvement in sport than women with a disability, 47% compared to 29%. Younger people with a disability were more likely to be involved in sport than older people with a disability.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is committed to assisting development of sporting opportunities for all Australians, improving access and equity in all aspects of sport. The ASC has stated that it will assist in staging the Sydney 2000 Paralympics and ensure that these events make a long-term and broad contribution to sport3.

In 1992, there were 136 competitors at the Barcelona Paralympics. In total, they won 76 medals, 24 of which were gold. Overall, Australia finished sixth in the medal tally.

PROPORTION OF DISABLED PERSONS INVOLVED IN SPORT(a), 1994

Males
Females
Age group (years)
%
%

0-14
75.8
68.0
15-29
65.0
48.5
30-44
55.0
39.4
45-59
43.7
26.9
60-74
38.2
20.3
75 and over
25.7
10.9
Total
46.9
29.2

(a) Includes players, non-players and spectators.

Source: Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers


Endnotes
1 Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Australian Sports Commission (1985) Australian Sport: A Profile.

2 Australian Sports Commission unpublished data.

3 Australian Sports Commission (1993-94) Annual Report.

4 Time Use Survey.


Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.