Report: People In U.S. Spent More Than $100B On Sports, Gear, Exercise In 2016
Monday, September 11, 2017 at 04:36PM in Finances, MLB, NFL, sports marketing, sports survey

By Barry Janoff

September 11, 2017: How much do people in the U.S. like sports and exercise?

More than $100 billion worth, which includes $56 billion in the past year spent on attending sporting events, some $33 billion on athletic equipment, $19 billion on gym memberships and nearly $5 billion to enter and compete in 5Ks, obstacle course competitions, bike races and other similar events.

No surprise: Attending a sports event is a significant investment, according to a just-released report and survey, Americans Spend Big On Sports, from, a leading online credit card marketplace based in Austin, TX.

In 2016, it cost an average of $502.84 to take a family of four to an NFL game, up 232% from $151.33 in 1991. That amount covers two adult tickets, two children’s tickets, two small beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, two programs, two adult-size ball caps and parking.

The same family outing to an NBA game came to $339.02 in 2016, up 139% from $141.91 in 1991.

MLB fared best, with a family-of-four in 2016 spending an average of $219.53, up 176% from $79.41 in 1991, per

"Americans love sports, but it's no secret that attending a professional sporting event is a costly endeavor, even from the upper deck," Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for, said in a statement.

However, according to Schulz, ”That doesn't seem to be stopping people from spending a ton on athletics, though, proving that ‘If you build it, they will come.'"

According to, 34% of those surveyed report having spent money attending sporting events.

"Sporting events, including tickets, transportation and food and beverage, comprised the majority of the spending; 79 million people indicated laying out a total of $56 billion in the past 12 months," according to Americans Spend Big On Sports.

"Americans also spent big on athletic equipment — in excess of $33 billion. Gym membership fees also totaled well into the billions, with 54 million people racking up a $19 billion tally in the past 12 months."

If you notice the average age of fans at pro sports events going down, you would be right, according to

"When it comes to heading to the stadium, older Americans tend to sit it out. Only 21% of those 53 years and older spent money on attending a sporting event in the past year, compared to 43% of those ages 18-52."

Good news for the NFL, MLB and others: families are attending events.

Some 46% of those people surveyed with young children paid to see a sports event in-person, versus 28% of those without children.

The likelihood of spending on sporting events, athletic equipment and gym memberships also "increases with income and education."

Over the past year, 68% of those with a college degree spent money in at least one of these categories, as opposed to 41% of those with no more than a high school diploma.

For all age groups, people with an income of at least $75,000 who are college graduates were "much more inclined to buy tickets to sporting events and pay for related expenses."

Parents are much more likely than non-parents to have splurged on athletic equipment over the past year. Nearly half (46%) of those with children under age 18 indicated spending money in that category, compared to 22% of those without children.

Among other findings in Americans Spend Big On Sports:

• 23% have paid for gym memberships.

• 12% have purchased sports-themed video games, spending about $8 billion.

• 8% entered 5K, obstacle course, biking races and other similar events ($4.8 billion spend).

• 4% entered a fantasy sports league ($2.3 billion spend).

The survey was conducted for by Princeton Survey Research Associates International via a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted Aug. 17-20, 2017.

See the full report here.

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