Popular Sports that Aussies Play Into Adulthood

rugbyAustralia is a sports haven, full of athletes of all ages and both genders, playing a wide variety of different sports. So what are the sports that Australians play as adults, and why do they play those sports? As revealed by recent Valued Opinionsâ„¢ poll data, the most popular sports in Australia are swimming, rugby and basketball, and the reasons for playing sports range from social interaction to keeping up with fitness.

Popular Sports


KOMBAT_BannerSwimming is a very popular Australian sport, and that is especially the case among adults. This may be because swimming is an individual sport that does not require competition. Adults can swim for health reasons, or recreationally, without having to worry about organizing or competing with other people.

Some surveys conducted by suggest that swimming is one of the most popular sports among Australian adults. Asked to choose between six sports, Valued Opinions reports that swimming is the most popular sport among every adult age group for women with 23% of all female respondents selecting this. Swimming is less popular for adult men with 16% of all male respondents selecting swimming, but still a very common sport. As men get older, they swim more (most likely because it is an easy sport to practice in older age). It is the most popular sport among Australian men ages 55-64, and ages 65+.


Despite its physical nature, Aussie League and Rugby is a very popular sport for Australian men. According to Valued Opinions, rugby was the third most popular sport among Australian men aged 25-34-12%, and 55-64 11%. It is the second most popular sport among Australian men aged 35-44 14% and 65+ 10%, and the most popular sport among Australian men aged 45-54 16%.

Rugby is much less popular among adult Australian women, probably because professional women’s rugby is not nearly the phenomenon that its male counterpart is in Australia. Just 2% of all females selected rugby/AFL as their favourite sport.


Basketball is the inverse of rugby in Australia: extremely popular among adult women, but unpopular among adult men. 13% of women selected basketball over 5% of men. Basketball was the second most popular sport among Australian women in every adult age category, trailing only swimming each time, according to Valued Opinions. This may be largely due to the tremendous international success of the Australian women’s National team, the Jayco Opals.

Reasons for Playing

What drives so many Australian adults to play sports? Mainly the physical benefits; according to the poll, the most common reason for Australian adults of all ages and both genders, is physical fitness and health. The same results also show that, as Australians age, they play sports more often to be social; it becomes an opportunity to spend time with friends.

Team vs. Individual Sports

As Australians age, they have a greater desire to play individual sports. Social benefits for individual sports can be related to post activity socializing. According to Valued Opinions, Australian men and women ages 15-2 and 25-34 both prefer team sports to individual sports. But for the other age categories–35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+–Australians prefer to partake in individual sports. This is because such sports are easier to play at your own level, and thus are more accommodating for adults to play.

On the whole, Australian adults are nearly as likely to play sports as children are. For both men and women, Valued Opinions reports that Australian adults of all ages are most likely to play 2-3 sports. For adult men, they’re more likely to play 4-5 sports than 0 or 1. It’s clear that sports are a large part of the Australian adult lifestyle, both for pleasure and for physical fitness.

"This article has been written by a third party. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Research Now or its Valued Opinionsâ„¢ panel. The statistics referred to in this article were collected from pre-screener questions directed to members of Research Now’s Valued Opinions panel during July 2013. The information is presented without warranty, express or implied."

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