Boating Participation Facts

This graphic from the Outdoor Foundation shows what people do with their boats. It's one of many charts, surveys, and illustrations you'll find on their website statistically describing outdoor participation, spending, preferences, job creation — anything that has to do with outdoor activities and participation.

Note the blue bar represents men, the gray bar women. So, guys use boats for fishing more than anything else. Women may prefer to cruise and sunbathe, but the thing to take from this chart is this: Fishing drives the boating industry like no other activity. At least, for guys. However, some guys can't buy boats without permission and sunbathing babes that like to cruise tend to adhere to the trite (and ridiculous) adage that image is everything. So they want a boat with a sunbathing deck that they can be seen in. In other words, sleek.

I'll take substance over image every day of the week and twice on Sundays. If we learned anything from Enron and the recent disgrace of those big financial institutions, it was the fact that a beautiful, well-manicured facade is...a facade. Substance. Give us the little guy behind the curtain and not the big, scary,  Wizard of Oz — which turns out to be a pyrotechnic display with the volume cranked up. The little guy with a real and actual face gives out diplomas, watches, and the promise of a way home.

A fishing boat puts food on the table. It keeps people alive in sudden storms. It helps teach kids how to take care of themselves. And it does a fine job of pulling a tube around, or just cruising around the lake. Apparently, the majority of boat owners agree: Fishing boats aren't always sleek and graceful, but they do it all. And, in case you haven't noticed, people hit the water in record numbers in 2010. According to USA Today, 75 million of us went boating that year. That's over 34% of us — the highest percentage since 1999.  Boat sales were down that year, but back on the rise in 2011. And, as the graphic above suggests, most of those boats being bought with fishing in mind.

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