Not Just a Game: The Impact of Sports on U.S. Economy

USSportsBlogWhat would happen if, tomorrow, the sports industry keeled over and snuffed it? Just how much does the world of balls, pucks, and punches actually add to the country’s economy? 

More than some might think, it turns out. The sports industry as a whole brings roughly $14.3 billion in earnings a year — and that’s not even counting the Niagara of indirect economic activity generated by Super Bowl Sunday (well-known for being the second foodiest day in the country, behind Thanksgiving). The industry also contributes 456,000 jobs with an average salary of $39,000 per job.

The sports sector, in other words, packs a wallop.  

How Did We Get Here?

Now, to run this scenario, since there isn’t a ready-made sports sector, we analyzed the 15 industries that capture the majority of sports jobs. To determine those industries, we began with the following six sports occupations (focusing on spectator sports, not sports such as hunting or fishing), and then chose the 15 industries that contained at least 10,000 jobs from these occupations.

Sports Occupations:

  • Athletes & sports competitors (SOC 27-2021)
  • Coaches & scouts (27-2022)
  • Umpires, referees, and other sports officials (27-2023)
  • Entertainers & performers, sports & related workers, all other (27-2099)
  • Gaming & sports book writers and runners (39-3012)
  • Agents & business managers of artists, performers, and athletes (13-1011)

(Note: We realize that we probably captured some non-sports jobs in with the mix since the last two occupations are a little muddied, but we also inevitably had to leave out a few sports jobs, so in the end it balances out.)

The table below lists the 15 industries, the number of sports jobs they each contain, the percent of each sports occupation in each industry, and how great a percent of each industry is taken up by sports jobs. 

NAICS Industry Occupation Group Jobs in Industry (2012) % of Occupation Group in Industry (2013) % of Total Jobs in Industry (2013)
611110 Elementary and Secondary Schools (Private) 16,652 2.9% 1.6%
611310 Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools (Private) 21,276 3.6% 1.2%
611610 Fine Arts Schools (Private) 18,781 3.3% 8.4%
611620 Sports and Recreation Instruction (Private) 22,874 4.1% 8.6%
611691 Exam Preparation and Tutoring (Private) 17,140 2.8% 9.4%
611699 All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction (Private) 10,228 1.7% 8.7%
711211 Sports Teams and Clubs 15,588 2.7% 14.5%
711219 Other Spectator Sports 18,185 3.2% 9.5%
711410 Agents and Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures 13,662 2.4% 18.6%
711510 Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers 96,297 16.5% 8.5%
713910 Golf Courses and Country Clubs 16,426 2.8% 4.3%
713940 Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers 48,781 8.4% 7.3%
713990 All Other Amusement and Recreation Industries 21,463 3.7% 8.8%
812990 All Other Personal Services 22,127 3.8% 1.8%
813410 Civic and Social Organizations 12,336 2.1% 3.0%

Taking the number of jobs contained by each industry (say, 15,588 jobs within the sports teams & clubs industry), we ran those numbers through the Input-Output in Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market analysis tool. The result? We got to see how much money these jobs contribute to the economy, as well as how many other jobs they create.

So, while this isn’t a hard-core economic analysis, we’re still able to get a pretty good idea of sports’ impact on the U.S. economy. Let’s take a closer look at what we found. 

Effect on Earnings

The pie chart below shows the breakdown of the effect on earnings. Initial is simply the first stage of the contribution: the sports workers’ salaries. Direct gives the impact of the industries’ purchases from the first round of the supply chain (uniforms and shoes, for instance). Indirect shows the impact of the supply chain’s supply chain (textiles, rubber). The total impact equals $14.3 billion.

Scenario Effects on Earnings

Occupation Growth 

The six sports occupations are doing well, collectively growing 12% since 2009. Umpires, referees, and other sports officials and athletes & sports competitors have grown the most at 14% each. Gaming & sports book writers & runners have grown the least (6%). The athletes themselves, of course, taken in the best median hourly pay: $26.93. (Yes, we know that’s wildly off for the big-time athletes, but this figure is dragged down by the more humble wage-earners.) Sports jobs have a multiplier of 2.3, which means that for every job, another 1.3 is created through supply-chain effects. 

Occupation 2009 Jobs 2013 Jobs Change % Change
Total 324,344 351,137 26,793 8.3%
Athletes and Sports Competitors 17,858 19,158 1,300 7%
Gaming and Sports Book Writers and Runners 16,310 16,881 571 4%
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes 20,754 23,531 2,777 13%
Coaches and Scouts 212,313 231,558 19,245 9%
Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers, All Other 37,014 38,503 1,489 4%
Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials 20,095 21,507 1,412 7%

Not surprisingly, there are nearly three times as many coaches and scouts as there are actual athletes. See the proportions below:

Occupation Breakdown - 2012 Jobs

As of 2012, the MSAs with the greatest number of sports occupations are New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island (41,365 jobs), Los Angeles-Long Beach/Santa Ana (37,227), and Chicago/Joliet/Naperville (15,755). But that is not where the sports industry is the most concentrated. Measured by location quotient (LQ), concentration or specialization tells us how unique and compelling an occupation is for a particular region. Edwards, Colo. (3.20 LQ), Lawrence, Kans. (2.95), Silverthorne, Colo. (2.59), and Pullman, Wash. (2.49) have the highest concentrations for sports jobs. In some cases, high concentration seems to measure enthusiasm per capita; it answers the question — where are the fans? But in others, as in Pullman, it might simply be the result of an export-serving industry — which Washington State University is.

See the map below for the MSAs that contain at least one team in any of the five big professional sports leagues, including Major League Soccer, ranked (in shades of green) according to their percentage growth since 2009:

Sports MSAs Map

Industry Patterns

Besides arts, entertainment, and recreation, the industries that benefit the most from the sports sector are educational services (private); other services; and health care & social assistance

Contributions to Jobs Image

What’s even more interesting, however, is to trace the ripple effect that sports occupations have on these industries. Initialdirect, and indirect show the jobs multiplier at work: 

NAICS Name Initial Direct Indirect
Total 371,816 55,348 27,382
11 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 0 87 813
21 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 0 49 252
22 Utilities 0 278 90
23 Construction 0 396 379
31-33 Manufacturing 0 1,930 1,487
42 Wholesale Trade 0 716 625
44-45 Retail Trade 0 1,032 430
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing 0 1,628 1,270
51 Information 0 1,377 998
52 Finance and Insurance 0 3,559 3,280
53 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 0 5,686 1,917
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 0 8,470 4,451
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises 0 1,302 678
56 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services 0 9,539 5,077
61 Educational Services (Private) 106,951 1,365 265
62 Health Care and Social Assistance 0 149 47
71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 230,402 13,371 2,876
72 Accommodation and Food Services 0 1,616 1,355
81 Other Services (except Public Administration) 34,463 2,512 899
90 Government 0 286 193

Check out the dollars side of things:

NAICS Name Initial Direct Indirect
Total $10,284,591,093 $2,582,253,327 $1,395,994,375
11 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting $0 $2,545,109 $22,138,255
21 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction $0 $4,491,904 $20,215,260
22 Utilities $0 $34,369,434 $11,577,920
23 Construction $0 $19,464,760 $18,601,659
31-33 Manufacturing $0 $109,007,942 $101,341,041
42 Wholesale Trade $0 $53,594,251 $46,768,735
44-45 Retail Trade $0 $31,536,892 $13,147,622
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing $0 $70,830,867 $61,702,255
51 Information $0 $103,949,788 $77,821,955
52 Finance and Insurance $0 $262,213,758 $244,546,044
53 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing $0 $165,178,751 $57,272,526
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $0 $544,312,680 $290,065,284
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises $0 $151,490,910 $78,853,849
56 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services $0 $326,133,350 $173,118,810
61 Educational Services (Private) $2,517,931,402 $34,383,750 $7,442,726
62 Health Care and Social Assistance $0 $9,152,366 $2,805,055
71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation $7,078,902,802 $527,694,932 $94,431,102
72 Accommodation and Food Services $0 $34,483,431 $29,165,588
81 Other Services (except Public Administration) $687,756,889 $76,227,057 $30,653,094
90 Government $0 $21,191,395 $14,325,595

So even without an excessively rigorous study, at the end of the day we can feel more than a little justified about America’s obsession with sports. “Just a game”? Far from it. Who knew that when you took your kid out to the ballgame, you were doing your country so much good? 

Opening image from WalesOnline.

If you have any questions or comments, email Rob Sentz (rob@economicmodeling.com) or call 208.883.3500.

DesktopEconomist_FooterSubscribe

Comments are closed.