In late 2021, as vaccination rates increase, the Australian community is learning to live with the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but its impact on organised sport continues, and is yet to be fully understood. Assessing available research and analysis provides the sport sector a view of the impact so far and offers insights into emerging trends.
This brief assessment of key trends impacting organised sport in Australia, has been created to provide an overview of possible issues and opportunities, but also to guide future sport participation focuses. Understanding how Australians’ sporting habits have been affected could provide helpful context in assessing a future focus for sport participation in Australia.
Moving forward, suggested areas of focus offer a starting point to further explore and understand the opportunities and future for sport participation.
Emerging issues and opportunities for sport participation [September 2021]
Highlighting emerging issues, threats and opportunities for sport participation.
The value of sport transcends just sporting benefits and participation can positively impact people and society across a broad range of criteria. Sport in its many forms can serve as an excellent platform for families, communities and governments to encourage more people to get more active more often, and to increase their levels of physical activity.
In 2020, the International Society for Physical Activity and Health included 'sport and recreation for all' as one of the eight investments that work to reduce physical inactivity. They also highlight that sport, including sport for development, has links to eight of the United Nation's sustainable development goals, including health, social, economic, development, peace and sustainability.
The sports played in Australia, as well as who, how and why we play them, are always changing and evolving. While evidence is still emerging about the specific impact of the pandemic, it's important to understand some of the key participation trends and factors impacting organised sport as well as some of the ways in which sport can play a role in supporting individuals and communities to recover, grow and thrive.
The current evidence provides some insight into how the sport sector has been impacted by the pandemic but it also corroborates recognised trends previously highlighted in publications such as the Boston Consulting Group’s Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport in 2017 and the Australian Sports Commission/CSIRO, Future of Australian Sport (mega trends) study.
These trends, emerging through the pandemic, provide the sport sector with some guidance towards possible areas of focus to align with contemporary sporting trends and recover from the recent sector challenges.
Emerging Sport Participation Trends [October 2021]
The pandemic remains a threat across Australia but its impact on the sporting sector is better understood through access to a higher volume of research and analysis.
Key areas of focus
The pandemic has influenced sport and physical activity habits as Australians sought different ways to remain active when organised sport had been cancelled.
There is a risk of ongoing mental and social wellbeing challenges, but sport can play a valuable role in rebuilding mental health and reconnecting people.
Indications suggest individuals, organisations and governments are reducing non-essential spending. Revenue and workforce reductions are likely to impact sport at all levels.
The trends identified within this assessment are not exclusive; but they do appear prominent and provide Australian sport with a guide as to areas of possible risk and opportunity.