As reported in InterGame, “A recent report [Active Project] has revealed that many UK teenagers are choosing fun, social activities over the traditional, competitive sport. The study was led by Michaela James, a research assistant in childhood physical activity and Sinead Brophy, a professor in public health data science at Swansea University. It was published by The Conversation, a media outlet that uses content from academics and researchers.”
“The aim of the report was to investigate how to better get teenagers more active. School-based schemes have had mixed success to date so the experiment involved teens directly, which vastly improved the success of these types of initiatives.”
“One of the key findings was that, given the choice, many teenagers prefer something fun, unstructured and social over traditional sports. When allowed to decide what they wanted to do, all of the participants were in favor of unstructured and informal pastimes. Trampolining accounted for almost half of the chosen activities (49%), followed by laser tag (11%) and waterpark visits (7%) with boys and girls opting to do similar activities.
“The study, named the Active Project, worked with 900 teenagers in South Wales. Using a voucher system to pay for activities, empowering them to make their own choices, the participants also had peer mentoring to give them social support to be active, and a support worker was made available to help the teenagers find out what was available already.
What this could mean? There has been much written over the past several years that clearly shows that more than half of the younger generation (Millennials in particular) are not rabid competitive professional sports fans like their parents and grandparents are/were. Professional sports are in decline and if you asked the general public why the first response might be the cost is out of reach for most. But there are many other reasons. Team sports for many are also not as popular.
AEM and many others in the OOH leisure entertainment industry know that all competitive sports are still serious competition for scarce household income dollars. What we have not previously documented with valid studies is that 900 teenagers (at least in the UK South Wales) chose trampoline parks, laser tag, waterparks, and other active, fun, and social interactive attractions over competitive team sports. This bodes well for our industry. Validating that ‘we’ are an option, gives ‘us’ confidence to further invest in the future of ‘our’ industry. My hope is that future studies and research may show that the same is true in the US and worldwide. ‘We’ have it all including the food and the active products/services that the general public can afford and even visit several times per year. It is a good thing that the UK has so many trampoline parks (I believe more than 200) and laser tag also is big. Maybe soon VR and Inflataparks will get into the queue as great choices for teens.