4156.0 - Sport and Recreation: A Statistical Overview, Australia, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/2001   
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Sport and recreation can be defined as the vast array of activities that people pursue in their leisure time. These include attending sporting and cultural events, participating in sport and physical recreation activities, involvement in hobbies, watching television or videos, listening to music, reading, socialising and taking holidays.

This publication presents information for all aspects of sport and examines a selection of recreation activities. Activities such as visiting a museum or library, watching television, reading or involvement in art and craft activities (which will be separately published) have, in the main, been excluded, but all physical leisure activities as well as gambling and other active recreation pursuits like playing arcade games have been included in the study.

Sport and recreation as an industry is not just about consumers. It also includes the producers; the professional portspersons and entertainers, the manufacturers and distributors of sporting, recreational and cultural products and the tens of thousands of people involved in the provision of services (both in a paid and voluntary capacity), for example, those involved in the preparation and serving of meals, bar attendants and gaming workers.

Some producers are businesses classified to Subdivision 93 (Sport and recreation) of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). However, the sport and recreation sector is really much wider than Subdivision 93 implies. For instance, ANZSIC classes such as Horse farming, Toy and sporting good manufacturing and Clubs (hospitality) contain businesses engaged in activities associated with sport and recreation. Similarly, integral parts of the boatbuilding industry and the pubs, taverns and bars industry can be regarded as part of the sport and recreation sector.

No single all-encompassing source exists that can provide data covering all the businesses engaged in activities associated with sport and recreation. Therefore, aggregate sport and recreation statistics have to be drawn from a number of
independent collections which may use different standards, concepts, definitions, reference periods or provide information at different levels of detail. To use the boatbuilding industry as an example, manufacturers may build vessels for either
recreational or commercial use, but manufacturing surveys did not distinguish between the type of customer targeted for the end product. Some caution has to be exercised when comparing the statistics from different sources.

For this study, business surveys are the primary source used to measure the contribution sport and recreation industries make to the Australian economy. These provide details such as income and expenditure which, in turn, allow the calculation of profit, industry gross product, value added and performance ratios.

However, just as important to the nation is the social contribution sport and recreation makes to the lifestyle of Australians. Data on participation in sport, spectators at sporting events, volunteers in sport and recreation, expenditure on sport and recreation goods and services, how people spend their time and the amount and level of physical activity they undertake are drawn from household surveys.



Total supply of sport and recreational goods and services amounted to approximately $12,500m in 1993-94 - Australian production was valued at about $11,800m with the remaining $700m being imported goods. Value added of the sport and recreation sector represents 1.2% of the Australian total.


There were over 11,000 employing businesses operating in the sport and recreation sector during 1994-95. These organisations provided employment for over 163,000 people, paid over $2,500m in wages and salaries and achieved operating profit before tax of almost $2,000m for that year.


Total outlays on sport, recreation and gambling by government and households amounted to $8,000m in 1993-94 - Commonwealth, State and local government outlays plus outlays by public trading enterprises were about $2,100m while expenditure by households was approximately $5,900m.

Households spent $4,146m on sport and recreation goods and services while their net outlays on gambling amounted to $1,779m.


Australian exports of sport and recreation goods during 1995-96 amounted to $358m while, for the same time, the corresponding value of imports was $970m. Some of the major commodities traded included boats, yachts and pleasure craft, bicycles and live horses.

The main destinations of Australian sport and recreation goods are New Zealand, Japan and the United States of America. Asian countries are the source of about one-half of the imports of these commodities, and the United States of America is the largest individual supplying country.


The 1996 Census counted more than 217,000 people who had a main job associated with sport and recreation activities. Of these, 82,000 people had sport and recreation occupations, while over 135,000 persons worked in other occupations within the sport and recreation sector.

Of the 82,000 people with sport and recreation occupations, 11,909 persons were either greenkeepers or apprentice greenkeepers, 6,562 sports coaches, 5,978 gaming workers and 4,799 sportspersons.


Over 828,000 people performed voluntary work for sport and recreation organisations during the 12 months ended June 1995. The volunteer rate for males (6.9%) was higher than that for females (5.0%), with the rates for both males and females peaking for those in the 35-44 year age group.


About one-third of Australians 15 years of age and over were involved in sport, either as players or non-players, in the 12 months to March 1997. Participation rates were higher for males (39.8%) than females (25.2%) and declined as age increased, ranging from 50.5% for people in the 15-24 year age group to 17.8% for those aged 65 years and over.

Aerobics was the most popular organised sport and physical activity undertaken by Australians during 1995-96 (660,000 participants), followed by golf (445,000) and tennis (362,000).


More than 6.2 million people aged 15 years and over had been to a sporting event in the 12 months ended March 1995. Australian Rules was the most popular spectator sport, attended at least once during the reference period by almost 1.9 million people. Horse racing (1.7 million) and Rugby League (1.5 million) were the next most popular sports.

During the year, total attendances at Australian Rules and Rugby League were estimated to be 14.4 million and 8.5 million respectively, while for horse, harness and dog racing combined, there were about 10.6 million admissions.