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The measurement of the sport sector’s economic contribution to the Australian economy is multi-layered, including direct, indirect, and induced economic activities, increased workforce productivity, and the value of volunteers.1

Outside of standard economic value categories there can also be a notional sense of ‘value’ related to personal and community wellbeing and national pride derived from sport participation or perceived affiliation with sport.

A dollar value can be estimated from factors including:
  • employment (inc. volunteer service)
  • health cost savings
  • economic activity
  • infrastructure and facilities
  • events and tourism.


Sport creates significant value for Australia, with at least $7 returned on every dollar expended in the sector (direct economic benefits, the network of volunteers and not-for-profits, avoided health costs, and education benefits).1
Community sport participation in Australia generates an estimated $18.7 billion annual value in social capital (such as, community engagement and identification, reciprocity, generalised and personalised trust). 2
A number of Australian sporting organisations (including Surf Life Saving3, Equestrian4, Golf5, Football6, AFL7, Motorsport8 and Cycling17 have produced reports highlighting their contribution to the Australian community and economy.


Economic activity

Spending in sport comes from a variety of sources: 1
  • User pay
    (sports related fees, equipment clothing, training, etc.)
  • The private sector
    (including sponsorship and marketing spend)
  • Local government 
    (mostly infrastructure spending)
  • State government 
    (sports participation, high performance pathways, infrastructure)
  • Australian Government 
    (including grants and programs from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and other Federal departments)
Community sport infrastructure helps generate A$6.3 billion worth of economic benefits including their construction, maintenance and operation, and the increased productivity of those who are physically active as a result of such infrastructure.9
The Australian sports sector is estimated to generate $32.2 billion in annual sales, resulting in a contribution to GDP of approximately $14.4 billion.10

Employment and education

The Australian sports industry is estimated to support 128,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, around 1.5% of the FTE workforce in Australia. 10
The education benefits that result from children playing sport are worth A$5 billion annually. These benefits are from: 1
  • improved cognitive development, learning and retaining information
  • building critical life skills
  • staying in school longer
  • higher lifetime earnings (through better grades and staying in school longer).
The sector employs more than 220,000 people, with volunteers donating 158 million hours to sport each year – equivalent to nearly 90,000 additional full-time jobs and AU$3 billion in economic value.1
Employers and university students agree that engagement in sport, especially in a voluntary leadership or management role, provides ‘added value’ beyond standard academic qualifications.11
University graduates who participated in sports earn more on average than those who didn't participate in sport, or who participated in gym/physical fitness activities only.12 13

Health and wellbeing

Sport creates A$29 billion of net health benefits each year through reduced healthcare costs and early mortality. 1
Community sport infrastructure helps generate: 9
  • A$4.9 billion worth of health benefit
  • A$5.1 billion worth of social benefit
The estimated cost of treating physical activity related injuries in hospitals was A$764 million, while managing health conditions due to physical inactivity (such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes) cost the health system A$968 million (2018-19).14
The social benefits of playing community club-based sport once per week are estimated to be worth A$5,932 per participant, per year.2

Events and tourism

Australia has been successful in attracting many of the world’s biggest sporting events. These events stimulate economic activity, encourage domestic and international tourism, provide international exposure through broadcast and media, and generate other potential economic and social benefits.
The 2015 Asian Cup event created A$128 million in direct expenditure and a 6% increase in club registrations affiliated with Football Australia.16
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games helped create an estimated: 15
  • A$2.5 billion increase in Gross State Product (GSP) over 9 years; including 21,000 jobs.
  • 1.3 million visitors leading up to, during and after the Games. Spending more than A$1.1 billion in the region.
  • 100 national and international events secured in Queensland.


Economic analyses of the sport sector often use very different methodologies and/or data points (e.g. GDP, social return on investment (ROI), looking at the economic contribution of only volunteers, or a specific sport) which can make it difficult to get a clear, overall view of the value of sport or to compare figures between reports, organisations or time periods.

Reports are also rarely replicated across time periods, and data can quickly become outdated. Some statistics or data may only be collected intermittently, may not clearly distinguish between sport and related industries, or may not be available without expensive subscriptions or analysis.

The adoption of consistent methodology and improved data currency and availability would help to address these challenges and strengthen the evidence base for the return-of-investment of sport for individuals, the community and the broader Australian economy.

  1. Intergenerational review of Australian sportBCG Consulting for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017).
  2. Economic value of community club-based sport in AustraliaAustralian Sports Commission and the Griffith Business School at Griffith University, Queensland, (2018)
  3. Surf Life Saving’s economic contribution to the community valued at $3.6 billion. Price Waterhouse Coopers, (2011)
  4. Equestrian brings more than $1Billion to the economy, Equestrian Australia, (February 2017)
  5. The Australian Golf Industry economic report 2010, Australian Golf Industry Council, (2010)
  6. Community impact of football in New South Wales, SBP for Football NSW and Northern NSW Football, (June 2018)
  7. Value of a community football club, La Trobe University for the Australian Football League and AFL Victoria, (2015)
  8. Australian Motorsport – An economic powerhouse, Motorsport Australia, (16 November 2021)
  9. The value of community sport infrastructure: Investigating the value of community sport facilities to AustraliaKPMG for the Australian Sports Commission, (2018)
  10. Sports Industry Economic Analysis: Exploring the size and growth of the sport industry in AustraliaKPMG for the Office for Sport, Department of Health, (March 2020)
  11. The impact of engagement in sport on graduate employability: implications for higher education policy and practice, Kerry Griffiths, Steve Bullough, Simon Shibli, et al., International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics , Volume 9(3), pp.431-451, (2017)
  12. The Impact of Engagement in Sport on Graduate Employability: Final report, Kerry Allen, Steve Bullough, Doug Cole, et al., Sheffield Hallam University for British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), (2013)
  13. The effects Of high school athletic participation on education and labor market outcomes, John Barron, Bradley Weing, Glen Waddell, Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume 82(3), pp.409-421, (2000)
  14. Economics of sports injury and participation report, Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, (18 February 2022)
  15. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Post Games Report, Office of the Commonwealth Games, Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games, Queensland Government, (2019).
  16. Annual report 2014-2015, Australian Government, Department of Health, (2015).
  17. The Australian  Cycling and E-Scooter Economy in 2022, We Ride Australia, (2023)


Discover more about the value and benefits of sport.

Last updated: 29 November 2022
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