UK adult participation rates for 'climbing' now almost the same as football

Here's an interesting one - Sport England have released the first ever Active Lives survey, assessing participation rate of adults in sport for the UK. And the graph above should give some interesting reading, with 'Climbing or Mountaineering' sitting up alongside football for participation rates, twice as big as golf, and slightly under half the participation rate of swimming.


Firstly, let's get the clause out of the way. 'climbing or mountaineering' encompasses 'climbing, mountaineering and hiking' so it's not just rock climbers. I.e. it's hard to infer from the figures at a decent percentage of that number is hill-walkers. But still, these are people who all love the climbing, in some shape or form. Excellent.

Unfortunately, we've no comparison due to it being the first edition, however anyone want to take bets that the other sports are all well established, and 'climbing and mountaineering' (as it now includes indoor climbing gyms) is on the increase? One would hope.....

The interesting pieces to consider with this is:

  • at present, much investment goes to 'viewing' sports for adults. I.e. football, horse racing, etc. etc. And this has been the case for probably a couple of centuries (at least) based on the the entertainment factor. But with the ideas around obesity, and also reductions in the amount of work hours we all are required to do, and general improvements in standards of living, what about if the focus suddenly starts to move back even more to those sports that are actually getting people active, other than just sitting in a stand watching sport? What if suddenly there's even more investment into 'climbing', etc.?
  • There is of course a certain level of investment already into sports, swimming pools, etc. But again, what happens if an observation is suddenly made to push more funding/investments into the other sports? Again, what is the impact?
  • Strangely, I see no mention of cycling in the figures (even though the main cover photo of the report is of cyclists).. And adult participation is booming in cycling these days. What does that do with the figures?


In short, the main thing is that reports such as this, as well as the increased focus in the USA on correctly reporting the economic return from outdoor activities means that the future is bright for those activities that deserve more recognition. Hoora.

Neal McQuaid