Action Sports Market

What started as a niche activity defined by rebellious youth performing outrageous stunts, Action sports have now firmly entrenched themselves in the threads of American society. This year more than 22 million athletes will participate in "Action sports" like skateboarding, BMX riding, surfing, and snowboarding.

As recently as 15 years ago Action sports had little to no presence on the national stage. Participants were labeled as delinquents and were chastised for their unconventional use of public spaces. That perception began to change in mid 1990s as the youth of America became enchanted with these counter-culture, non-traditional sports and the daring enthusiasts that participated in them. Driven by athletes who constantly test the boundaries of impossible, Action sports culture is now a mainstream lifestyle that heavily influences billions of dollars of consumer spending.

Advertisers are using Action sports as an effective way to keep their brands "cool" in the minds of America's youth. These consumers are wary of traditional marketing tactics but are receptive to brands that truly embrace and support their culture. Action sports participants are strong influencers within the 12- to 28-year-old demographic, and marketing savvy companies are finding innovative ways to connect with them. Brands like Mountain Dew, Panasonic, Toyota, and Right Guard are examples of the wide array of industries that are making significant investments to reach Action sports enthusiasts. By partnering with Active, companies can gain access to this market in a way that captures the spirit of these participants.

Why Action Sports Enthusiasts are Attractive to Marketers

Skateboarding is by far the most popular Action sport with 12 million Americans who participate each year and 4.7 million frequent participants who skate more than 30 days per year. 80% of skateboarders are between the ages of 7 and 17 with an average age of 14. Over the past ten years skateboarding has also seen increased acceptance by households that earn more than $75K per year. 38% of skateboarders come from such households compared to 23% in 2000 and 15% in 1995. Like the other Action sports, skateboarding is predominantly male at 75%.

Snowboarding has also experienced incredible growth over the last 10 years. There are now 6 million participants in the U.S., of which 2.5 million ride more than 10 days per year. Also attracting a young demographic, 60% of participants are between the ages of 17 and 24 with an average age of 19. Snowboarding is also moving up the income scale with 42% coming from households with income above $75K versus 26% in 2000.

Surfing has natural similarities with skateboarding and snowboarding, however the need for ocean waves severely restricts participation. Despite this, surf culture and lifestyle has perhaps the strongest influence on mainstream society of all Action sports. There are 1.1 million surfers in the U.S. of which 700,000 are frequent participants who get into the water more than 20 days per year. Almost 50% of surfers are between the ages of 12 and 24, however participation is much more evenly distributed than the other Action sports. 50% of surfers have a household income above $75K and the sport has been increasingly accepted as status sport like golf or tennis within some regions.

The only non-board sport in this group, BMX riding, comes in three different forms; racing, freestyle, and dirt jumping. There are 2.6 million participants in the U.S. and 700,000 who ride more than 52 days per year. Additionally, 400,000 enthusiasts ride more than 100 days each year. 70% of participants are under the age of 24 and only 12% have a household income above $75K. BMX racing will also be an Olympic sport for the first time in 2008 in Beijing.

Market and Feasibility Study

Hotel & Leisure Advisors, LLC, a national hospitality consulting firm specializing in appraisals, feasibility studies, economic impact studies, and impact analyses for hotels, outdoor and indoor waterparks, resorts, ski resorts, golf courses, restaurants, conference and convention centers, and other leisure real estate recently completed an in-depth market and economic feasibility analysis of the Xero Gravity development proposal and recommended moving forward based on potential revenue generated from tourist and local participation.

"Skateboarding is a lifestyle, not a recreational sport or hobby"

- Rob Drydek, Pro Skater


Wave Loch is the #1 man-made surf designer, manufacturer, and surfing theme park company in the world. They have locations on 5 continents, and have over 100 FlowRiders® worldwide, including cruise ships and retail shops. Although there are several FlowRiders located within various waterparks throughout the region and the country, most of these facilities offer only one machine, and usage requires admission to the entire waterpark.


The market for snow sports can look forward to a healthy period of growth in both value and volume. Over the forecast period (2004-10) there will be an increase of 31% in snow sports activity. - Mintel Market Report, Sept 2004. Briton Engineering, the design and manufacturing company of Snowflex, is the leading man-made snow park firm in the world completing over 200 snow sports projects built.


4,116 Skate Parks are in operation in the United States, with 95% being outdoors. 60 Skate Parks exist in the state of Florida, however only 1 park is located in Orlando, Florida. There are no themed parks revolving around skateboarding.


  • Action sports generate $12.1 billion in annual US retail slaes including $1.5 billion in skate shoes alone
  • 3 out 5 teenagers watch Action sports
  • Skateboarding has surged 49% over the past 10 to 14 million U.S. Participants
  • Yearly industry revenue over the last 10 years is $2.5 billion
  • Snowboarding includes 7.2 million participants - up 51% for 1999
  • Surfing has 17-23 million participants with $6.24 billion in revenues