The sustainable growth of comprehensive community sports clubs (CCSCs) is important for improving the sports life of local residents and for innovating the local sports system. However, CCSCs have not been growing steadily, as is evident from the reported increase in the number of club closures. Therefore, it is necessary to develop management strategies that can facilitate a sustainable increase in the growth of CCSCs. While previous studies have examined the factors that affect the growth of CCSCs, the actual situation remains unclear. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to clarify the current situation of CCSCs from the viewpoint of growth, and to examine the management issues affecting club growth. Data were collected via a nationwide questionnaire survey and 734 valid responses from CCSCs were collected. The findings can be summarized as follows:
1)Regarding the growth of CCSCs based on objective measures, the number of members and the scale of club budgets increased in approximately half of the CCSCs after establishment. As for human resources, while the number of instructors has increased, the number of support staff has decreased relative to the number of instructors. Regarding the business activities of CCSCs, those of sports clubs has been stable or has been improving, while those of clubs focusing on cultural activities has remained relatively stable.
2)Regarding the growth of CCSCs based on subjective indicators, many CCSCs responded that the quality of the sports life and club life of their members, as well as the retention rates of both management staff and members, were increasing. However, an awareness of CCSCs among local residents, and the level of understanding and achievement of their mission have not improved significantly. Furthermore, there has been little growth in donations, the number of volunteers, and the influence of local governments.
3)A significant association was found between objective and subjective growth indicators. However, even when objective growth was high, the subjective growth potential was not always high. This result suggests that objective growth does not directly lead to subjective growth of a CCSC.
4)CCSCs based could be categorized into four types based on their growth potential scores: “high-growth type”, “low-growth type”, “subjective growth dominant type”, and “objective growth dominant type”. Of the CCSCs that responded, 33.4% were “low-growth” clubs and only 16.5% were “high-growth” clubs.
5)CCSCs with a juridical personality and CCSCs based in large areas tended to have high growth rates, while those that were either established by, or that received a lot of support from, local governmental organizations tended to have a low growth rate.
The results revealed that CCSCs are not necessarily growing steadily. Future studies need to clarify the organizational conditions that affect CCSCs’ growth in order to develop a management strategy that realizes stable growth.