Yeah, I had to read that headline twice myself. According to the New York Times twice as many young adults bowl as ride bicycles. How is this possible? I’m not really sure but I will try to explain.
First, let’s take a look at the source information that the NYT has gotten this information, the 2008 U.S. Census data. The information is compiled from responses to 10,000 questionnaires sent to the male and female heads of households. In that questionnaire, it asks the respondents the sports in which they participated in 2008 and the number of days of participation.
Before I get into the numbers I believe that it is worth mentioning a quote popularized in the U.S. by Mark Twain; “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This statement from the NYT falls into the last category. Now is the time that I should mention that I am not a statistician so all of the following should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt.
If you strictly look at the numbers, it is a pretty staggering difference, for individuals between the ages of 18-34 (young adults in my book) 9.1 million reported riding bikes while 17.5 million reported bowling. Really? 17.5 million? Are people counting Wii Bowling?
I guess my biggest issue is with the footnote included which indicates that they only included respondents who “engaged in activity [cycling] at least six times in the year”. Bowling did not have the same limitations. Bowl one time in a year, you are a bowler, cycle 5 times, you are not a cyclist. Does that seem a little bit arbitrary to anyone else?
The good news is by the time people reach the 45-54 age bracket, the numbers for cycling (5.8 million) and bowling (5.4 million) even out.
Am I over reacting here? Yes probably a little bit, or a lot. Either way a take away from this survey is that cycling has a lot of room for growth, who knows, maybe someday it will be a big as bowling.
(I recognize that this is straying a little bit outside of our normal informative posts here on CTC, but we figured even though it isn’t directly related to the Twin Cities, it was worth commenting.)