In 2012, a total of 465,403 individuals participated in the five sports studied. Two of the five sports included in the study (Australian Rules Football and cricket) were male-dominated (>95 % males), one (netball) was female dominated (>95 % females) and two (basketball and hockey) had around two-thirds male and one-third female participants. Consequently, a greater proportion of the study population were males (n = 320,842; 68.9 %) than females (n = 144,561; 31.1 %).
Table 1 and Fig. 1 show age-specific participation rates over the period 2010–2012. Table 1 also shows comparisons between 2011 and 2010 and between 2012 and 2011, in the form of rate ratios and associated confidence intervals. Table 2 shows, for the year 2012, the participation rate for each age group compared to the 10–14 year-old age group, which is when the participation rate peaks. Table 3 and Fig. 2 show differences in 2012 age-specific participation rates for females compared to males. Table 4 and Fig. 3 show differences in 2012 age-specific participation rates for the non-metropolitan region compared to the metropolitan region.
Overall, the number of registered participants in the five sports studied rose from 414,167 in 2010 to 465,403 in 2012. This corresponded to a rise in the proportion of Victorians participating in these sports, from 7.5 % in 2010 to 8.3 % in 2012.
Table 1 and Fig. 1 reveal the following patterns and trends. The rate of registered sport participation among 4 year olds rose from 8.7 % in 2010 to 9.0 % in 2011, and then increased quite sharply to 10.4 % in 2012. By contrast, the 5–9 year age cohort had the second highest proportion of registered sport participants, but this proportion remained very stable throughout 2010–2012 at just under 30 %. The highest proportion of registered sport participants in the Victorian population occurred within the 10–14 year age range, and this increased considerably between during the period from 35.8 % in 2010 to 39.0 % in 2011 and 40.2 % in 2012. In each year there was a considerable decline in the participation rate with increasing age from 10–14 to 15–19 and 20–24. However, over the three year period, these three age cohorts all exhibited strong growth in participation. Beyond age 24, the participation rate declined steadily with increasing age, and as the size of the counts diminished, the rate ratios in Table 1 became more volatile.
Table 2 presents the age-specific participation rates for the year 2012 from a different perspective, with the rate for each cohort being compared with the 10–14 cohort, the age of peak participation. For example, Table 2 shows that the participation rate for 20–24 year olds in 2012 was 11.6 %, which was 0.29 (or 29 %) of the peak participation rate of 40.2 %.
Table 3 and Fig. 2 show that more males than females were registered in 2012 as participants in the five sports included in this study, and this was consistently the case for each age cohort. The overall male participation rate was 11.5 %, compared to 5.1 % for females. Participation rates peaked at age 10–14 for both males (49.7 %) and females (30.3 %). Excluding some of the oldest age cohorts for which numbers were very small, the highest rate ratio (0.61) was for the 10–14 age cohort, indicating that this is the age at which the female participation rate comes closest (at 61 %) to the male participation rate. The lowest rate ratio was for 4-year olds (males 17.9 %; females 2.6, or 14 % of the male rate).
Table 4 and Fig. 3 show that the overall participation rate in the five sports studied was higher in non-metropolitan (12.3 %) compared to metropolitan areas (7.0 %). Among 4 year olds, the rates were similar (rate ratio = 1.06), but the rate ratio steadily increased with increasing age, reaching a maximum of 2.88 at age 30–34. Thereafter, the rate ratio declined, reaching parity around age 60. Participation rates peaked at age 10–14 for both metropolitan (34.9 %) and non-metropolitan (54.8 %) regions.