For most of us, sports are a leisure activity. Actually, they are as important to the economy as any other major industry. Given the economic climate, it would stand to reason that many of the sports-related occupations would be in decline to make room for more ‘necessary’ jobs. But as you can see, the data tells a different story.
In order to see the economic impact of the sports industry, we will run a scenario that removes the industry from the economy. The first step is to collect the industries that make up the sports sector. Because a designated ‘sports industry’ doesn’t exist, we will choose three detailed industries that capture most of the jobs in the industry: Operation of sports facilities (9311), Activities of sports clubs (9312) and Other sports activities (9319). Between these three, we will be working with most of the jobs that exist in sports.
The initial effect of removing the sports industry from the economy is a loss of £23.8 billion in earnings and 987,564 in jobs. The three industries have an average jobs multiplier of 3.23, which means that for every 1.00 job that is created in or removed from the industry, there are 2.23 other jobs created or removed somewhere in the economy.
The graph below shows the ten industries most affected by the removal of the sports industry.
The high-level industries most affected by the scenario are Wholesale and Retail Trade with 105,267 jobs lost, Administrative and Support Service with 81,758 jobs lost, and Human Health and Social Work, with a loss of 70,466 jobs.
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, the high-level industry under which sports are categorised, is tenth on the list, with a loss of 32,783 jobs. This doesn’t count all the jobs that we removed from the sports industry in the initial scenario, however. It merely captures other jobs outside of the three industries that we included in our scenario. These jobs would cover other kinds of entertainment and recreation, such as performing arts, leisure clubs and art clubs.
A Breakdown of the Sports Sector
The sports activities sector is made up of seven occupations, listed below. Some of these occupations (like gardeners and groundsmen/groundswomen) obviously include some workers who do not work in a sport-related activity, but a high percentage are involved in the industry, so the numbers will even themselves out.
|SOC||Description||2010 Jobs||2013 Jobs||Change||% Change||Median Hourly Earnings|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2013.1 BETA|
|5113||Gardeners and groundsmen/groundswomen||92,748||97,979||5,231||6%||£8.62|
|6211||Sports and leisure assistants||52,641||54,737||2,096||4%||£7.50|
|3442||Sports coaches, instructors and officials||47,651||50,508||2,857||6%||£12.25|
|1225||Leisure and sports managers||43,626||46,862||3,236||7%||£12.30|
|3449||Sports and fitness occupations n.e.c.||9,138||9,835||697||8%||£7.46|
Of these occupations, gardeners and groundsmen/groundswomen currently has the lead with the most current jobs at 97,979. Of course, not all of these groundspeople work in conjunction with sports activities. According to our the inverse staffing pattern, 27.8% of the occupation works in activities of sports clubs and another 17.8% works in operation of sports facilities. Forty-five per cent of gardeners and groundsmen/groundswomen work in Landscape service activities, and it is very likely that they service sports facilities from time to time. So all together, 91% of groundspeople work in some kind of sports-related activity, which equals 89,161 workers.
Sports and leisure assistants come next with 54,737 jobs in Great Britain, followed closely by sports coaches, instructors and officials (50,508), leisure and sports managers (46,862), fitness instructors (35,758), sports players (20,769) and lastly, sports and fitness occupations n.e.c. (9,835). It’s interesting to note that there are more than two managers for every player in the industry. It’s understandable that players might feel a little over-managed at times.
|NUTS1 Name||2010 Jobs||2013 Jobs||Median Hourly Earnings|
|Source: EMSI 2013.1 BETA|
|East of England||28,634||29,095||£9.92|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||25,452||22,879||£9.73|
Most of the jobs in the sports sector are found in the South East, probably because of the high concentration of football clubs found in that area of the country. The South East accounts for 51,952 jobs. London is next with 37341, ahead of Scotland (31,922) and the West Midlands (30,420). The North East has the smallest amount of sports-related jobs, totalling only 13,300 jobs.
In terms of median hourly earnings, managers make the most at £12.30, with coaches, instructors and officials close behind at £12.25. From the table above, it appears that professional sports players make £10.91 as a median hourly wage, which would be hard to believe given the salaries of some football players. Remember that there are thousands of professional sports players who play for small clubs in less-than-wealthy areas, which brings the median earnings down. Additionally, many professional sports players earn significant prize money by winning competitions, which are not included in the wage amount here.
Judging from the per cent growth over the last few years, assistants seem to be losing their jobs. It stands to reason that when a struggling economy forces a sports club to make budget cuts, assistants would be first ones to go.
Since 2010, gardeners and groundsmen/ groundswomen have gained the 5,231 jobs, a 6% increase. Fitness instructors have the highest per cent growth at 12% – an increase of 3,920 jobs. Assistants have only increased 4% since 2010, a change of 2,096 jobs – this low rate of growth is probably due to budget cuts in the sports sector. Sports players have grown the least at only 3% (607 jobs).
Many sports clubs are staffed in large part by volunteers, which are not captured in this data. Sport England estimates that over 2 million adults volunteered in sports for at least one hour a week from October 2007 – October 2008 (an increase of 125,000 from the previous year). Unfortunately, the data for this study from the European Commission is a few years old, but it shows that there was healthy amount of volunteering in the sports sector in 2008 and there’s no reason to suspect that the love for sports has cooled. We can reasonably assume that volunteers still have a significant impact on the sports sector.
As you can see, the sports sector is an important part of the economy, with impacts on all other industries. Remember that next time you head down to the pub to watch a football match.