The Irish Sports Monitor published by Sport Ireland is an important snapshot of where we are with regard to sporting participation on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

It reveals much about who, why and where we are collectively and individually partaking in sport and is the basis for much of the decision-making on emphasis and funding that guides Sport Ireland and Government policy.

The activity of children and younger teenagers make up the bulk of what we see as sport on the pitches and in the halls of schools and clubs but the Sports Monitor paints a picture of how we ‘play’ as adults.

The Top 10 sporting or physical activities we took part in through 2021 are as follows:

1 Personal Exercise

An overall rate of 13 per cent was down on 2019’s 16 per cent, the last year of non-covid activity but through the year the number rose steadily, from 11 per cent in Q2 when many of the gym facilities remained closed or restricted through to 14 per cent by Q4

2 Running

Overall 8 per cent through the year which was up on the seven per cent recorded in 2019 but down on the 10 per cent of 2020 when we had little other option. That same number held firm through Q1 of 2021 but dipped back down to eight per cent though the middle and seven by the end of the year.

3 Cycling

Overall seven per cent having peaked at 10 per cent in Q2. Similar to running that it was highest in the middle periods of the year, even the figure of six per cent recorded in Q4 was well ahead of the four per cent level recorded in 2019.

4 Swimming

Among the hardest hit through Covid with the closure of swimming pools, the overall figure for the year was five per cent, down from nine per cent in 2019 but bouncing back from only four per cent in 2020. It peaked in Q3 when it hit nine per cent.

5 Weights

The Covid fallback for home use peaked at six per cent in each of the first two quarters of the year but then halved as the other options became available once more, finishing the year with a figure of four per cent, twice what it was in 2019.

6 Yoga

Steady at three per cent through 2019, 2020 and last year, the added emphasis on wellbeing should help to maintain its popularity.

T7 Football

The overall figure dipped to two per cent but that climbed through the year and the final two quarters hit three per cent which is where the sport was in 2019.

T7 Golf

The Numbers playing golf dipped back as other options became available but the Q3 number was a match for the overall three per cent that played the sport in 2020.

T7 Gaelic Football

The overall number of two per cent reflects its mainly summer months activity and the number hit three per cent in Q3. The final figure of two per cent was an equal of where it was in 2020.

10 Hurling / Camogie

A solid one per cent figure was similar to what it was before and through the first year of covid.

The figures are based on 1000 representative adults across the country answering the question of what sport or physical activity they had undertaken in the last seven days.

It would be fascinating to see what the numbers were for children and perhaps that is something which will be considered in future research but for now it does give an interesting perspective on Ireland as an active sporting nation.



Sport for Business Partners