I've noticed references in several threads to the declining participation this year. CDR has said Bethel was down about 25-30 percent. And I've noticed around here in North Carolina that race turnout seems to be a lot lower - at the races I've put on and attended.
And that got me wondering, what is driving the participation decline?
One of the local officials recently commented to me that she is amazed at how many master's racers stopped showing up once they announced they were going to start increasing drug testing at amateur competitions. (There have been two guys, maybe it was three, guys around here who got popped for doping in the last couple of years.) But, I haven't seen any actual testing being done locally, so I am not sure that is the case.
But I have a different theory. Participation in cycling jumped in the early to mid 2000s, largely due to Lance Armstrong's success. But after almost 10 years, give or take, a lot of those people who took up cycling have started losing interest, and there are several possible reasons:
* They either found racing too difficult.
* They reached a point that they weren't getting any faster.
* They had children, or their children got older and started their own activities.
* Careers go in the way of training.
* They crashed or got injured and decided racing was no longer worth it.
* The economy took too much out of them and they can't afford it.
Among my friends, the birth of children has been the biggest issue driving people to stop racing. Though for me, injury reduced my racing, while costs have made me much more selective about the races I do.
Golf is seeing a similar decline. Participation spiked in the late 90s early 2000s when Tiger Woods came on and started dominating. He drew a completely new group to the sport. But when he stopped dominating, participation started falling. Guys probably found it too difficult to do well or too expensive.
What are your thoughts?