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Fewer kids playing (and watching) cricket and football

Source: Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, January-December 2010 (n=3,372) and January-December 2014 (n=2,404). Base: Australians 6-13 years.

With the ICC Cricket World Cup finals almost upon us, and the AFL season about to kick off for another season, the question arises: what does the future hold for these two sports in Australia? With cricket and Aussie Rules participation rates among 6-13 year-olds on the wane, can we even count on a new generation of Clarkes, Watsons, Abletts and Goodes?

In 2010, 23% of Australian kids aged between six and 13 played cricket at school and 15% played it outside of school hours. By 2014, these figures had fallen slightly to 21% and 14% respectively.

Australian Rules Football saw similar declines in school and out-of-school participation. Between 2010 and 2014, the proportion of young Australians aged 6-13 playing football at school decreased from 17% to 15%, while those who played outside school hours went from 12% to 10%.

However, the participation rate of children in both cricket and footy well and truly outstrips that of their older counterparts: 6% of Australians 14+ reported playing cricket occasionally or regularly in 2014, and just 3% played Australian Rules.

Cricket & Australian Rules football participation/TV viewing among Aussie kids: 2010 vs 2014


Source: Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, January-December 2010 (n=3,372) and January-December 2014 (n=2,404). Base: Australians 6-13 years.

Aussie kids also appear to be losing interest in watching cricket and AFL on television. Over the past five years, the proportion who watch cricket on TV has fallen from 30% to 26%, while those who watch AFL has decreased from 37% to 33%.

In this respect, they are well behind the 14+ age group, 40% of whom tune in for the cricket and 38% of whom watch the AFL on TV. (It should be noted, however, that cricket and AFL are still watched by more 6-13 year-olds than any other sport on TV except the Olympic Games.)

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“While more Australian children are playing sports such as soccer, basketball, netball and tennis at school than they were in 2010, the same cannot be said of cricket and footy, which seem to be slowly falling out favour in local school sports programs. Of course, participation rates vary among different ages, with 10-11 year-olds the most likely to have played cricket (26%) and Australian Rules football (18%) at school in 2014.

“Outside of school hours (and away from the obligations of Phys. Ed classes), participation has slipped across several sports, with football and cricket being among the casualties. One key exception is the 6-7 age group: an increased proportion is playing cricket, up from 10% in 2010 to 12% in 2014.

“When we consider that Australian children are spending more time than ever using the internet and less watching TV, hanging out with friends or playing sport, this downward trend makes sense. Perhaps the Federal Government’s new ‘Sporting Schools’ initiative will be successful in reversing the decline, and encourage a new generation of footy and cricket champions in the process…”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%