Americans Play Less, Watch More

Americans are playing fewer sports but watching more, according a report released Wednesday.

Participation in almost every recreational sport, from golf and tennis to bowling and snow skiing, was down in 2004, while attendance at professional sporting events was up.

Television viewing also increased, continuing an eight-year trend.

Those and many other facts were included in this year's Statistical Abstract, a 1,023-page book of numbers quantifying just about every aspect of American life.

The Census Bureau assembles the statistics from a myriad of government and private sources, so researchers, academics and businesses can find them in one place.

"It reflects the changing nature of the country," said Lars Johanson, a statistician at the Census Bureau.

Norman Chad said he didn't need a government report to tell him that people are watching more TV and playing fewer sports.

"We all have televisions. They are relatively inexpensive," said Chad, who writes a syndicated sports column called "Couch Slouch" about the sports he watches on TV. "We all have microwave ovens. Why do we need to go out?"

Chad also does color commentary for the World Series of Poker on ESPN. Card playing increased slightly in 2004, but was still down from five years earlier.

Skiing, tennis and other recreational activities enjoyed increased popularity until 2004, when participation slipped.
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