Participation in recreational scuba diving

Sports & Fitness Industry Association Report 2015

Every year the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) releases a report that reviews participation data on various sports and recreational activities. The 2015 report pertains to 2014 participation data and is based on 10,778 online interviews (5,067 individuals and 5,711 households) among one million US online panel members. The survey asked about demographics and participation in various physical activities and sports.

Demographics of the survey participants included the following:

  • 49 percent male, 51 percent female
  • < age 18: 15 percent
  • > age 65: 17 percent
  • 77 percent Caucasian, 8 percent African American, 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 8 percent Hispanic, 1 percent “other”
  • The results were calculated based on a U.S. population of 292,064,000 ages 6 and older. Various weighting techniques were applied. The sample provides a high level of confidence. A sport with a participation rate of 5 percent has a confidence interval of plus or minus 0.42 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. However, scuba diving participation was significantly smaller (1-1.1 percent of population)

According to this report, 3.145 million Americans (1.1 percent of population) participated in scuba diving once or more in 2014, which is a 0.9 percent decrease over 2013. However, the average participation for the last two years shows a 1.3 percent increase over the average for the previous five years.

There are 2.252 million casual participants in scuba diving (defined as making between one and seven dives per year) and 893,000 core participants (defined as making eight or more dives per year). Males make up 66 percent of casual and 74 percent of core participants.

Fig.1

Figure 1 shows the age distribution of casual divers versus core participants.

  • 1 percent of casual and 57 percent of core participants are between the ages of 25 and 54.
  • 7 percent of casual and 21.2 percent of core participants are younger than age 25.
  • 2 percent of casual and 21.8 percent of core participants are older than 54.

 

The rate of participation (the percentage of population that participate in scuba diving) by age group is shown in Figure 2.

Fig.2

In the 18 – 44 age range, participation for the casual divers is between 1.2 and 1.4 percent and for the core divers between 0.2 and 0.4 percent. Participation rates vary with age. Casual participation rates increase continuously until age group 35-44 and decreases sharply afterwards. The core participation practically does not vary between age 25 and 64 (3-4 percent) but drops at older age (0.1 percent). Interestingly, both casual and core participation rates for children (6-12) are several times greater than for  65+ age groups.

This may be partly because the later includes wider age range.

Fig.3

As shown in previous reports, scuba diving participants are on average wealthier and better educated than the general population.

Data about cross-participation of scuba divers in other activities shows 3 – 22 times higher participation indices in comparison to the general population. This pertains to aerobic activities, participation in individual and team sports as well as in extreme sports. Nearly 46 percent participate in running/jogging and 36 percent swim for fitness. It is not known what is the overlap nor how many divers do not participate in other sports. However, it is encouraging to see that divers participate in sports more than the rest of population because in the past the DAN medical emergency line and Fatality and Injury monitoring program has observed that some divers get injured due to inadequate physical fitness. More precise data are necessary to identify those who need some additional encouragement.

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