NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (March 10)—Manufacturers' sales of basketballs and related equipment rose about 1 percent in 2004 in the U.S. to an estimated $380 million, according to SGMA International, the sporting goods manufacturers association.
Basketball, with more than 35 million players at various levels of organized play, is considered America's favorite team sport, the SGMA said, rivaling soccer in international popularity. In 2003, 8 million players in the U.S. said basketball was their favorite sport.
Partially fueling growth in the sport is the increasing number of young girls taking up basketball, the SGMA said, although 71 percent of those active in the sport are male.
The SGMA did not disclose unit sales of basketballs, but said manufacturers are hard pressed to raise their prices in the face of deep discounting by mass merchants. Basketballs are considered better today because of substantial improvements in their quality through the use of composite materials.