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.
- 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.
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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.
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.[table "602" not found /]
Not surprisingly, there are nearly three times as many coaches and scouts as there are actual athletes. See the proportions below:
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:
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.
What’s even more interesting, however, is to trace the ripple effect that sports occupations have on these industries. Initial, direct, and indirect show the jobs multiplier at work:
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Check out the dollars side of things:
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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 208.883.3500.