Australian states and territories have each been dealt differing Covid-19 hands over the last 6-months. Where some authorities have responded well, others less so while there has been plenty of good and bad luck to go around. All of which has impacted one particularly vulnerable community sector – participation sport.
Ebb and Flow
The one Covid-19 constant is how quickly and dramatically situations can change. At the time of publishing this research report (Oct-20) Western Australia had successfully kept the virus out of the community for an extended period whereas Victoria has paid a high price in terms of lives lost and economic pain.
This highlights the importance of constant vigilance and never getting complacent. A key caveat from the graphs and charts illustrated is that they are by no means predictors of the situation in each state and territory in three, six or even 12 months-time.
The only way sport can deal with this level of uncertainty and potential disruption is to have a plan A, B, C and probably D in place until such time as an effective vaccine is widely available and a new normal prevails.
Lockdown severity is influencing productivity, sometimes
Sample: 518 National and state/territory sporting organisations, peak bodies and government agencies.
The recovery to more normal (read 2019) social media publishing productivity levels for the industry is playing out very differently in each geographic market as is the case for engagement.
Northern Territory, South Australian and Tasmanian sports have emerged relatively unscathed from Covid-19 as can be seen here in the 2019 to 2020 April to September comparison. The mystery (and concern) is in Western Australia, where state sporting organisations are down by 30% despite lockdown levels in the West being relatively light and short.
Greater resources and a national footing are likely mitigating factors in the NSO’s (National Sporting Organisations) ability to ride-out restrictions in better shape than the states and territories. NSW and notably Victoria’s recent battles with virus flareups and associated lockdowns have played-out in their lower ranking.
The ACT is also perplexing. Sport in the capital territory may have been caught-up in their bigger neighbours troubles while fewer resources and a smaller participant footprint won’t have helped the cause.
Surfing tows Western Australian into positive territory
Positive/negative results comparing social media productivity and engagement from 2019 to 2020 – April to September inclusive.
Good news has been hard to find lately but both Western Australia and NSO’s achieved overall positive engagement results for the last 6-months compared to 2019.
At the other end of the scale some of the smallest participation markets in the country are seriously struggling to get close to 2019 engagement levels.
In Tasmania, 43% of state sports are down more than 50% on the same period last year for engagement while in the ACT the situation is even worse with 63% of sports ‘underwater’ by more than 50%.
National (Sporting Organisations): Cricket and AFL up the ante
For the NSO’s it was all about cricket (Cricket.com.au) who has stunned during its off-season with a plus 5.6m engagement result on the same period last year. From a productivity perspective the AFL has also upped its game considerably with 730 (+31) more posts published from April to September.
New South Wales: Athletics bucks the trend in off-season
Just 19% of NSW South Wales state sporting organisations achieved a positive engagement result in the last six months with the star being an out of season Athletics NSW with a plus 20,000 reactions, comments and shares uplift (+211%). On the publishing side of the equation NSWIS content is up 89 posts or 76%.
Victoria: Smaller sports shine
Victorian sports have been doing it particularly tough with a full lockdown re-introduced in the state early July that is finally beginning to unwind (late-Oct). Despite this, sport has performed well with 32% (21 of the 66 monitored) recording positive results for engagement with Rowing, Archery and Sailing leading a small-sport pack.
Queensland: Diving dives right-in
Queensland sport has been particularly productive from April to September compared to the same period last year with 35% of organisations monitored gaining on 2019. Top of the list is diving (up 780% / 39 posts), followed by Squash, Surf Life Saving and Wrestling. Notably, Diving also had the best engagement boost.
Western Australia: Surfing carries the state
In the West it was Surfing that carried the day, up a staggering 186k engagements (reactions, comments and shares) on 2019. Next best were a small group of organisations that eked out 1-2k positive results. With respect to post publishing, it was peak body SportWest that has set the standard (up 600%/222 posts on the same timeframe last year).
South Australia: Modest gains in tough times
There have been some modest productivity gains in South Australia with Netball and BMX lifting their post publishing work rate by 31 posts apiece. Interestingly, Rogaining SA recorded the greatest net rise in engagement (up 242%/237 reactions, comments and shares) while Netball had the largest count gain (up 2,668).
Tasmania: Ice Hockey leads the way
Through the winter months you might expect Ice Hockey to do well in Tasmania but maybe not this well….. during a pandemic? Topping the positive growth results for productivity (up 238%/57 posts) and engagement (up 514%/1,305 reactions, comments and shares) Ice Hockey has shown just how things can be done.
Australian Capital Territory: Baseball home-run
Productivity and engagement highlights in the ACT when comparing April to September 2020 with the previous year are few and far between. On the post publishing side of the ledger Baseball ACT scored a home-run with content volume up 206% (103 additional posts) while for engagement Little Athletics has led the way, up 118% (1,689 reactions).
Northern Territory: What pandemic?
The Northern Territory’s sport scene might be small but it is very active and has emerged relatively unscathed from strict Covid-19 thus far. Testament to this is a strong productivity result with 50% of sports bettering their results from last year. Stepping-up their game were Triathlon (+1,700%!), Equestrian (+400%) and Swimming (+300%).