Active recreation the big winner from Covid-19 lockdowns


If you were to take a guess as to which sports would weather Covid-19 relatively unscathed might active recreation type pursuits that require minimal human contact be at the top of your list? Shunt’s data backs this up with surfing, sailing, outdoors and equestrian among a select few sports in positive territory for social media productivity and engagement.

Crisis of Confidence

Aside from a health risk assessment by authorities as to which sport are/aren’t ok there is the bigger issue of public confidence. Even if (and when) restrictions are lifted will there be a complete return to normality for say the team-based winter sports? Or will participants and parents remain wary of potential exposure to Covid over the medium to long-term?

Only time will tell and there are still an awful lot of uncertainties but in the meantime activities such as cycling, surfing, outdoors (eg. hiking, camping) carry much less of a perceived risk, don’t require a full season commitment and are cheaper (provided you have a bike, surfboard or hiking boots). Something that will be very attractive to many households under financial stress.

With Covid-19 having disrupted the sporting landscape in so many ways some sports will be able to capitalise on their natural advantages while others unfortunately are going to have to work even harder as we head into 2021.

Peak body’s step-up during unprecedented crisis

Sample: 74 Sport, recreation, peak body, high-performance and government agencies. Positive (Facebook) results only listed.

In times of crisis peak bodies (Rank-1,2) spring into action to keep members informed and ramp-up stakeholder advocacy. This has definitely been the case with SportWest who is leading the way in Western Australia.

Another essential industry stakeholder are the sport and recreation agencies (Rank-5) who compliment the work of peak bodies. During Covid-19, government authorities have played a critical role in providing both financial lifelines and guidance in negotiating lockdowns.

In terms of identifying Covid-19 ‘winners’ across the Australian sports industry any activity that can be undertaken with minimal contact will be perceived as low-risk. This makes active recreation type pursuits such as surfing, cycling, hiking (Outdoors Rank-2), sailing (Rank-3) and equestrian (Rank-8) or pony club (Rank-4) ideal options.

With fewer lockdown associated disruptions, these pursuits have been able to not only maintain but increase their social media publishing outputs. A feat just 10 sports have achieved amongst a group of more than 70 currently monitored as part of this report.   

Active recreation where the engagements is at

Sample: 74 Sport, recreation, peak body, high-performance and government agencies. Positive (Facebook) results only listed.

Just nine of 70 plus monitored sports were able to achieve positive social media engagement results over the last 6-months (April to September) compared to the same period for 2019.

Volleyball Australia benefited from massively viral content in April to record the best result for the industry, up an impressive plus 500%.

Industry peak body’s translated a lift in productivity to engagement as one of only three recording a plus 100% result.

Little Athletics are out-of-season through winter but this did not stop the sport at a national level from upping its engagement game by over 500% (up 54k) to lift the sport by close to 100% across the board.

Switching from its multi-nation SANZAR format to more of a homegrown affair that brought the Western Force back from the cold paid dividends for Rugby with a 134k boost in Facebook engagement.

Uncertain as to where we’re heading?
You’re not the only one! Throughout 2020, Shunt has doubled-down on its work with our state and national sports clients to proactively expand their situational awareness. If you also want your ‘socials’ to deliver actionable insights that ensure you don’t just survive, but thrive then let’s chat. Get in touch at



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