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Involvement in organised sports and physical activities
Participation in sports and physical activities
Table 12.25 shows the results of an ABS survey on the sports and physical activities (both organised and non-organised) in which Australians participated in 1999-2000.
The survey found that 54.7% of the population (7,541,700 people) aged 18 years and over participated as a player or participant (rather than in a support role) in one or more sports or physical activities.
Participation rates were highest for the 18-24 year age group (73.5%), and declined steadily with age. The rate for persons aged 65 years and over was 33.8%.
Males had a higher participation rate than females in every age group. Overall, males had a participation rate of 58.5% compared with 50.9% for females.
Popular sports and physical activities
In 1999-2000, participation by adults in activities organised by clubs or associations was highest in aerobics/fitness, golf, lawn bowls, tennis and netball. However, when non-organised participation is included, the activities which attracted the most participants were walking (about 2.6 million people), swimming (1.9 million), aerobics/fitness (1.4 million), golf (1.3 million) and tennis (1.0 million).
For men, the most popular activities were golf and walking; for women, walking and swimming had the most participants (table 12.26).
The most popular sports or physical activities varied with age. In the 18-24 year age group, swimming had the most participants (350,900), followed by aerobics/fitness (345,300) and walking (231,600). For people aged 45 years and over, walking (1,170,200) had the most participants, followed by golf (575,700) and swimming (485,300).
State and territory differences
Differences in levels of participation in sport and physical activities in different parts of the country are in part affected by the age profiles of those populations, but other factors such as climate and life-style preferences of individuals may also be important, as well as the existence of facilities, including cycle and walking paths. These differences can be observed between the states and territories. In 1999-2000 adults in the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest participation rate (65.3% of persons aged 18 and over). South Australia, on the other hand, recorded the lowest participation rate (50.1%) (table 12.27).
Many people who were involved in sport when young are keen to continue or renew their active involvement by competing with and against their age peers rather than retiring from sport once they reach a certain age or feel that they are less competitive in open competition than they used to be.
A large number of sports offer Masters (or Veterans) sport where the competitions are arranged in age groups to allow participants to compete and enjoy their sport against people of similar age. A number of multi-sport festivals for the mature-aged competitors, known as Masters Games, are conducted in various locations.
The flagship event of Masters Sport is the Australian Masters Games. The 8th Australian Masters Games, the most recent, were held in Newcastle in 2001 and attracted 11,225 participants. The next Games, the 9th Australian Masters Games, will be conducted in Canberra in October and November 2003.
Attendance at sporting events
Attending sports events (such as club matches and international competitions) is a popular pastime of many Australians. During the 12 months prior to interview in April 1999, about 7 million people, or 47% of all people aged 15 years and over, attended a sporting event (excluding junior and school sport). The attendance rate was virtually unchanged from the rate recorded in a similar survey in 1995. Men (55%) were more likely to have attended than women (40%). For both men and women, attendance rates were highest for the 15-24 year age group (69% and 58% respectively) and steadily declined with age. Among men aged 65 years and over, the attendance rate was 28%, while for women in this age group it was 17%.
During the 12 months prior to interview in April 1999, the most popular spectator sport was Australian Rules football - 2.5 million people attended this sport on at least one occasion during the year (table 12.28). Horse racing (1.8 million), motor sports (1.6 million) and Rugby League (1.5 million) were also among the most popular spectator sports.
The total attendance rate in 1999 was 43.1%, virtually unchanged from the attendance rate in 1995 (43.2%). However, there had been a significant increase in attendance at Australian Rules football (from 13.3%, or 1.9 million people in 1995).