ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
This publication presents results from the 2005-06 Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) relating to attendance at sports events. The survey obtained data about the characteristics of persons aged 15 years and over who attended sporting events as spectators (excluding junior and school sport).
Details on the numbers of persons who attended sporting matches or competitions in the 12 months prior to interview are presented together with the socio-demographic characteristics of spectators, the most popular sports, and frequency of attendance.
Information on the concepts and methods used in the survey, reliability of the results and definitions and interpretation are included in the Explanatory Notes (pp. 28-32), Technical Note (pp. 33-35), and Glossary (pp. 36-39).
COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2006
The 2006 Commonwealth Games was held in Melbourne during March 2006 exhibiting over sixteen sports. Of these, nine were amongst the selected sports listed in the attendance survey. As the period of collection coincides with this one-off event, attendees may have either indicated they attended the Commonwealth games (instead of an individual sporting event) or alternatively they may have indicated that they attended a particular sporting event (rather than the Commonwealth Games).
Almost 40,000 people aged over 15 years reported attending the sixteen day Commonwealth Games. Refer to Table 5 for details regarding attendance rates. For these respondents, the survey did not collect information about which sporting event/s they had attended.
COMPARISON WITH PREVIOUS SURVEYS
Information on this topic was previously collected in the 2002 General Social Survey and in the 1999 and 1995 Monthly Population Survey conducted in April 1999 and March 1995. Data for 1999 and 1995 are included in this publication for comparative purposes. However, care should be taken when comparing results from these surveys as the methodology used in each of these surveys differed and this may affect the validity of comparisons. See paragraphs 21 to 28 of the Explanatory Notes for further information.
Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of component items and the published total.
MORE INFORMATION ON ABS CULTURE AND RECREATION STATISTICS
Information about Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) activities in the field of culture and recreation statistics is available from the Culture and Recreation Statistics theme page on the ABS web site. To access the theme page, select Themes from the menu on the home page. Details of other ABS publications containing information on sports and physical recreation can be found in paragraph 33 of the Explanatory Notes.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Over two-fifths of the Australian population aged 15 years and over (44% or 7.1 million) reported they had attended at least one sporting event during the 12 months before interview in 2005-06. The highest attendance rates were reported for Australian Rules football (16%), horse racing (12%), Rugby League and motor sports (both 9%).
AGE AND SEX
People aged less than 35 years were more likely to have attended at least one sporting event in the 12 months prior to interview, with those aged 18-24 years reporting the highest attendance rate of 57%. The rate of attendance generally declined across the age groups and the lowest rate of attendance (23%) was reported for those aged 65 years and over. More males (4.1 million or 52%) attended a sports event than females (3.0 million or 37%). Attendance rates were significantly higher for males than for females in all age groups.
SPORTS ATTENDANCE, By age and sex
AREA OF RESIDENCE
People living in state capital cities had a lower rate of attendance at sporting events (43%) than people living in the rest of Australia (46%). Attendance rates amongst the states and territories were similar, ranging from 50% for residents of the Northern Territory to 42% for people residing in New South Wales.
SPORTS ATTENDANCE, By state or territory and sex
To some extent, attendance at sporting events may be influenced by the age and family composition of the household of the person. Persons in a couple family with dependent children in a one family household reported the highest attendance numbers (2.7 million) and were more likely to attend a sporting event (50%) than persons with other types of household composition. Persons living in lone person households were the least likely to attend a sporting event (34%).
COUNTRY OF BIRTH
People born in Australia had a higher sports attendance rate (50%) than both people born overseas in main English-speaking countries (42%) and people born overseas in non-English speaking countries (21%).
Employed people had a higher rate of attendance (54%) than those who were unemployed (43%). Those employed full-time had a higher attendance rate (56%) than those employed part-time (48%). The lowest attendance rate was reported for people not in the labour force (27%).
Attendance rates by occupation varied from 66% for Managers and administrators to 44% for Labourers and related workers.
The rate of attendance was lowest for people whose completed level of education was year 10 or below (35%) followed by those with a Postgraduate degree (43%). Attendance rates ranged from 47% to 51% for the other education levels.
MAIN SPORTS ATTENDED
The 'main sports' presented in this publication are the twelve with the highest attendance reported by respondents.
Australian Rules football had the highest attendance rate of any sport in Australia with 2.5 million people aged 15 years or over reporting they had attended at least once in the 12 months prior to interview. This represents an attendance rate of 16%. Horse racing was the second most attended sport with 2.0 million people (13%) having attended at least once during this period.
Other sports which attracted over one million attendees were Rugby League (1.5 million) and motor sports (1.5 million).
The rate of attendance was higher for males than for females for the majority of the twelve main sports except for tennis and netball, for which the female attendance rate was 2% while the male rate was 1%.
Of the sports that were predominantly attended by males, half a million more males (1.5 million) than females (1.0 million) attended Australian Rules football and more than twice as many males as females attended motor sports (1.0 million males and 462,100 females). Other sports for which males dominated attendances were cricket (outdoor) (547,500 males and 183,200 females) and Rugby Union (449,600 males and 232,400 females).
The frequency with which people attended different sports varied considerably. The majority of people who attended dog racing (74%), harness racing (74%), horse racing (70%), motor sports (69%) and tennis (65%) only attended once or twice during the 12 months prior to interview. In contrast, 46% of people who attended netball attended this sport six or more times, as did over a third of those attending each of Australian Rules football, basketball and soccer (outdoor) (all 34%).
ATTENDANCE AT MAIN SPORTS, By sex
Australian Rules football
Australian Rules football was the sport most attended by Australians. It was attended at least once by over 2.5 million people or 16% of Australians, aged 15 years and over in the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06.
The highest attendance rates for this sport were reported in South Australia (31%), Tasmania (30%) and Victoria (28%). People in Queensland and New South Wales reported low attendance rates (7% and 5% respectively).
The attendance rate for Australian Rules football for males was 19% and for females 13%, with males in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria having the highest attendance rates (37%, 36% and 35% respectively).
An estimated 868,400 people attended Australian Rules football matches on six or more occasions during the 12 months prior to interview. This was 34% of all Australian Rules football attendees. A further 27% (or 679,700 people) attended this sport three to five times.
In the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06, 237,200 people aged 15 years and over attended a basketball game at least once, representing an attendance rate of 2%.
The rates of attendance at basketball ranged from 3% in South Australia to 1% in New South Wales and Tasmania.
Similar numbers of males (132,600) and females (104,600) attended basketball games with the attendance rates for males and females being 2% and 1% respectively.
More than two-fifths of all basketball spectators (42%) attended one or two times, one quarter (25%) had been to a game three to five times, while around one-third (34%) attended six or more times.
Cricket (outdoor) was the fifth most attended sport, having an overall attendance rate of 5%. The attendance rates ranged from 6% in Tasmania to 3% in the Northern Territory.
More males (547,500) attended cricket (outdoor) events than females (183,200) with the attendance rates for males and females at this sporting event being 7% and 2% respectively.
More than one-half (58%) of the people who attended cricket (outdoor) in the 12 months prior to interview did so one or two times. Over one-quarter (26%) attended three to five times and less than one-fifth (16%) attended six or more times during this period.
Horse, harness, and dog racing
There were 2.7 million people aged 15 years and over who attended horse racing, harness racing or dog racing in the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06. Horse racing was the second most attended sporting event after Australian Rules football, with 2.0 million people attending at least once during this period. The attendance rate for horse racing was 13%. In comparison, 444,200 people attended harness racing and 224,800 attended dog racing during the same period.
The highest rates of attendance for horse racing were reported in the Northern Territory (16%), and Victoria (14%). Western Australia had the highest attendance rate for both harness racing (5%) and dog racing (4%).
Males had higher attendance rates than females for all three of these sporting events. For horse racing, the most highly attended of these, the attendance rate for males was 14%, while for females it was 11%.
For the majority of people who attended one or more of these racing events (horse racing, 70%; harness racing, 74%; and dog racing, 74%), their attendance was an annual or bi-annual event. Just over one in ten attendees (horse racing, 11%; harness racing, 10%; and dog racing, 12%) attended six or more times during the survey period.
Motor sports ranked equal with Rugby League as the third most attended sporting event. There were 1.5 million people (9%) aged 15 years and over who attended this sport at least once in the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06.
People in the Northern Territory had the highest attendance rate (24%) for motor sports. This was also the highest attendance rate for any sport in the Northern Territory with the next most attended sport being horse racing (16%). Attendance rates for motor sports in other states and territories ranged from 14% in South Australia and Tasmania down to 7% in New South Wales.
Attendance at motor sports was more than twice as high by males (1.0 million or 13%) than by females (462,100 or 6%).
The occupation group with the highest attendance rate was Tradespersons and related workers (24%), followed by Intermediate production and transport workers (15%). The lowest attendance rate was reported by Professionals (8%).
Over two-thirds (69%) of people who attended motor sports did so only once or twice in the 12 months prior to interview, while one-fifth (20%) attended on three to five occasions and 12% attended six times or more.
In the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06, 188,800 people aged 15 years and over attended netball at least once. This represents an attendance rate of 1%.
The highest attendance rate was reported in South Australia (3%).
Of the 12 most attended sports in Australia, netball was one of two sports where female attendance was higher than that of males. The other sport where more females attended than males was tennis. More than twice as many females (130,800) as males (58,000) had attended a netball match during the 12 months prior to interview. This was an attendance rate of 2% for females, compared to 1% for males.
Of all persons attending netball, 46% did so six or more times, while three in ten (30%) attended one or two times.
There were 1.5 million people aged 15 years or over who had attended at least one Rugby League match during the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06. This was the third most attended sport, with an attendance rate of 9%.
High rates of attendance were reported in New South Wales (17%), Queensland (16%) and the Australian Capital Territory (14%). Attendance rates in the remaining states and territories were all less than 4%. Notably, the states and territories which had low attendance rates for Rugby League had the highest attendance rates for Australian Rules football.
Attendance by males (943,800 or 12%) at Rugby League events was nearly twice that reported by females (542,600 or 7%).
Over two-fifths (44%) of people who attended Rugby League did so only one or two times during the 12 months prior to interview. Almost three in ten people attended either three to five times (29%) or six or more times (27%).
There were 682,000 people aged 15 years and over (an attendance rate of 4%) who attended Rugby Union at least once during the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06.
Almost half of all people who attended this type of sporting event were reported in New South Wales (334,500 people) and over one-quarter were reported in Queensland (188,400). The highest attendance rate was reported for the Australian Capital Territory (16%). New South Wales and Queensland reported similar attendance rates at 6%. The lowest attendance rates were reported in South Australia (1%) and Tasmania (1%).
Almost twice as many males (449,600) as females (232,400) attended Rugby Union events during the 12 months prior to interview (6% and 3%).
Of the people who attended this sport, 55% had been once or twice during the 12 months prior to interview, while 18% attended six or more times and a further 27% attended three to five times during this period.
Over half a million people (560,700) aged 15 years or over attended a soccer (outdoor) match at least one once during the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06. This represents an attendance rate of 4%.
Comparing the states and territories, the highest attendance rates were reported in New South Wales (5%) and South Australia (4%).
More males than females attended a soccer (outdoor) match at least once in the 12 months prior to interview (348,600 and 212,200 respectively).
Over two-fifths (42%) of people aged 15 years and over who attended soccer (outdoor) matches went one or two times in the 12 months prior to interview, while almost a quarter (24%) attended three to five times. A further third (34%) reported having attended six or more times during the same period.
There were 267,900 people in Australia who attended a tennis match in the 12 months prior to interview in 2005-06. This was 2% of the population aged 15 years and over.
Victoria had the highest rate of attendance for this sport (4%).
Tennis was one of two main sports for which the number of females attending (163,500) was higher than the number of males (104,300). The attendance rates for tennis were 2% and 1% respectively.
The majority (65%) of people who attended this sport during the reference period did so only one or two times. Just over one-fifth (21%) attended three to five times and 15% attended six or more times.
This page last updated 9 May 2011