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Latest Inline Skating Numbers from SGMA

The number of American's inline skating declined 13.9 percent last year, according to the 2010 SGMA Sports and Fitness Participation Topline Report.

The report estimates that 8.2 million people strapped on inline skates at least once in 2009. It says 9.6 million people inline skated in 2008.

What should we make of this?

I would guess that there are two main factors:

1) The graying population: Many of the people who started skating in the 1980s and 1990s, during the height of the inline fad, are moving into middle age and beyond and have become less active.

2) New fads: Today's youth culture favors skateboarding and to a lesser extent scootering.

So how should we feel about the decline?

Of course, we'd like there to be more skaters. That would mean more inline events and products and skate buddies. But taken in context, inline is not really doing that badly.

We have about as many skaters as there are participants in one of today's big fads: Pilates (8.6 million). And we have more participants than skateboarding (7.3 million), snowboarding (7.4 million) and surfing (2.4 million). And nobody is worrying about the health of the board sports.

So keep the faith, skaters.

We're not riding the crest of a fad anymore. But we're still rolling - more than eight million strong.

...

Here is a sample of the 2009 participation numbers found in the the SGMA report:

  • ice skating - 10.9 million
  • golf - 27.1 million
  • bowling - 57.2 million
  • martial arts - 6.5 million
  • quad roller skating - 8.2 million
  • scooter riding - 5.1 million (down 20.8 percent)
  • triathlon - 1.2 million
  • tennis - 18.5 million
  • mountain biking - 7.1 million
  • road cycling - 40.1 million
  • downhill skiing - 10.9 million
  • cross-country skiing - 4.1 million
  • snowboarding - 7.4 million
  • skateboarding - 7.3 million
  • surfing - 2.4 million
  • swimming (fitness and competitive) - 17.4 million
  • running/jogging - 43.8 million
  • Pilates training - 8.6 million
  • yoga - 20.1 million
Thanks to SGMA for providing the Inline Planet with a copy of the Topline report. Go to SGMA for more info: http://www.sgma.com/

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Comment by Mr. T on July 30, 2010 at 5:19pm
Yes.. trails are getting worser and worser even here in SoCal. With unemployment rate for CA at over 12% (and that is official number that does not count people who have given up or are working part-time when they would like a full-time job) and the State deficit looking every day more and more as deep as the Grand Canyon, I would be astonished if the trail system were given any importance at all.
Our main site for training, Eldorado Park in Long Beach, is definitely much worse than the first time I skated on it 2 years ago. My local trail in Van Nuys has a section often flooded for park management is so poor and trail etiquette is woefully inadequate and not enforced. I kid you not.. 3 weeks ago a couple was walking two chickens on the trail.. Yes, two chickens totally oblivious to skaters, byciclists, etc.. Sometimes, out of luck a new trail system is being developed like in Santa Clarita. Too bad that you need to go under bridges on narrow and steep paths that scare the bejesus out of me. I almost killed myself once I did not realize the path was making a 90 degree turn at the end on a narrow and steep section.... Never again so I crossed that trail out altogether.

And I give thanks for big wheels. Imagine skating on those rough trails on 78-80mm wheels. Only the thought makes me feel sick.
I am very pessimistic about the future of inline skating. If I had the money, I would buy some land and build a road track only for skaters to use for a fee. I saw one in a France... So nice knowing that you can skate without having to worry about everything. But there are too few skaters in any area for the numbers to work from a financial point of view. So it is just my Utopia, my secret dream. I like the fact that in Montreal they can use the race track, albeit not always. race tracks are usually kept in a decent state, but most big cities have no track like that. I doubt that Laguna Seca is available at any time for skating or cycling. We have a small race track in Irvine, El Toro Field, (about 1 mile long) where occasionally I go to drive a car, that might be ok, but never asked if it is available for cycling or skating.. Probably not and perhaps too short.
Comment by Robert Burnson on July 30, 2010 at 10:22am
Mr. T. ... I think you're right about there not being enough good places to skate. And I'm worried about that. Given the state of the economy, I'm not sure how much the trail system is being supported. ... I can tell you that the trails I use here in the SF Bay Area are getting rougher every year lately. ... Hope that's not a trend.
Comment by Mr. T on July 30, 2010 at 12:29am
I thought that Pilates were for sissies, but after I tried one session with my wife, I must say that it might actually work. Yoga never worked for me: usually I get out of a session all upset and with a desire to pick up fights all over the places. Very dangerous for me.
I was, am, and always will be puzzled by the number of ice skaters. I am sure they count even the tourist at the Rockefeller Center in NYC at Xmas time who just put on the skates, walk on the ice and take a picture for the family and friends home and then take the skates off and walk away. I lived in MN; there ice is a religion and not all people in the state ice skate, same for Wisconsin. I doubt they skate much in the South of the US or even the middle, so really would like to know who the skaters are, but that is ok.
Maybe if, after the Storm Surge, MPC gave us a Snow Blizzard wheel, we might actually steal some skiers and snowboarders. I also think that surfers should be excused for being only 2.4 mln, but cannot really surf at the local pool or lake without some waves. Or do they count also windsurfers?

Robert, to your reasons for our decline, I would add that, often, finding suitable places to skate is not easy. As you know I have moved around a lot, even across continents. And in most places skating was really unpleasant. So much so, that at one point checkers started to look more appealing.
A) lack of suitable trails;
B) poor trail etiquette that makes skating dangerous (see recent tragic accident in Calgary you reported);
C) when trails exist, sometimes you need to cross busy roads or handle traffic;

Population might be greying, but as the number of hip and knee replacements attest people would like to continue with an active lifestyle. And if skating were made more appealing and places to skate more available, I am not so sure that people would not try skating. But we cannot expect a skating god to come down from the sky and make all this happen, so ..... And with politicians and local admistrators busier to stuff their pockets than worried about the common good (for an appaling case, see the case of Bell here in CA) I'd say that we cannot count on too much help.

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