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Sports Industry: A Research Guide

General Resources

The sources below are those that treat all sports as one industry and those that look at more than one sport. If you are looking for more detail for individual sports, see the left navigation. Some of the issues related to the business aspects of a sport may be better articulated in articles. That is particularly true on emerging issues like COVID-19's impact on sports participation and league management issues, as well time-sensitive issues like player contracts and league contract negotiations.

Selected Print Resources

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Special Collections at the Library of Congress

Searching the Online Catalog

The subject headings listed below are general in nature while subject headings devoted to particular sports, marketing, management, and buildings/venues are found in the pages devoted to those individual sports and topics.

Additional works on the sports business in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search that will allow you to browse related subject headings. Please see the individual sports business sections of this guide for catalog searches relating to them. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to the sports business, please consult a reference librarian.

Census Data

The Census Bureau produces many statistics for services, retail, and manufacturing. You will need the North American Industrial Classification Codes (NAICS) and the most important are below. However, there are others that may be of interest including the Agents (71141), athletes as endorsers (61162), manufacturers of equipment, retailing, etc. Also, the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) can be used for some more granular data and these codes are a hierarchical classification system for products (goods and services) that (a) is not industry-of-origin based but can be linked to the NAICS industry structure.

Data related to spectator sports can be found in the Economic Census done every five years, Service Annual Survey, and Quarterly Service Sectors which began in 2004.

Manufacturing data can be found in the Economic Census done every five years, as well as other monthly, quarterly, and annual data.

Retail data can be found in the Economic Census done every five years, as well as other monthly, quarterly, and annual data.

7112 Spectator Sports

71121 Spectator Sports
711211 Sports Teams and Clubs: This U.S. industry comprises professional or semiprofessional sports teams or clubs primarily engaged in participating in live sporting events, such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, and jai alai games, before a paying audience. These establishments may or may not operate their own arena, stadium, or other facility for presenting these events.
711212 Racetracks
711219 Other Spectator Sports

7113 Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events

This industry group comprises establishments primarily engaged in organizing, promoting, and/or managing live performing arts productions, sports events, and similar events, held in facilities that they manage and operate or in facilities that are managed and operated by others.

813990 Other Similar Organizations (except Business, Professional, Labor, and Political Organizations)

This industry comprises establishments (except religious organizations, social advocacy organizations, civic and social organizations, business associations, professional organizations, labor unions, and political organizations) primarily engaged in promoting the interests of their members. Includes: Athletic associations and leagues, regulatory

713990 All Other Amusement and Recreation Industries

This industry comprises establishments (except amusement parks and arcades; gambling industries; golf courses and country clubs; skiing facilities; marinas; fitness and recreational sports centers; and bowling centers) primarily engaged in providing recreational and amusement services. Includes: Recreational or youth sports teams and Recreational sports clubs (i.e., sports teams) not operating sports facilities

If you want to learn more about industry research, see our Doing Industry Research guide, specifically our Business & Economic Survey pages.