Australia’s love for the Australian women’s cricket team has endured through the pandemic, with the new research showing the team has retained its top ranking for emotional connection with the public.
The top ranking comes from research conducted by True North Research, who assess Australian sporting team’s emotional connection among people who have some familiarity with the teams.
For the second time, the Australian women’s cricket team has achieved the highest BenchMark Emotional Connection Score. Pride, trust, enjoyment, respect and bond are considered the values at the heart of emotional connection, according to the research.
Even through the tough environment of the pandemic, the Australian women’s cricket team have maintained their connection with the public, and this time have topped the ranking by a significant margin. Many other sporting teams saw their level of emotional connection decline during the pandemic.
Thanks everyone! Your support during this time means the world, can’t wait to play in front of you all again soon 😍 https://t.co/Sb17UPzzpI— Australian Women’s Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) November 23, 2020
The Matildas and Diamonds, who placed fourth and eighth respectively, have seen declines in their emotional connection score over the past six months. According to True North Research, these declines highlight that visibility is important for all national teams, but particularly women’s teams that do not necessarily have a long-standing relationship with sports followers.
Among winter league teams, Super Netball’s Sunshine Coast Lightning had the strongest BenchMark emotional connection score. True North Research indicates that strengths in areas like the club’s playing culture, corporate culture, community and fan engagement, financial performance, social leadership, and heritage, may have helped the Lightning come out on top.
As a sponsor, Puma continues to inspire the most first-time usage of its brand, through its partnership with Super Netball premiers Melbourne Vixens.
“Its ‘Witness Fearless’ campaign proved that sponsors that invest in difficult times can reap the rewards,” the report says.
Worth noting is the dedication of AFLW followers, who are the most passionate about seeing their competition return next year. Over a quarter of these followers said they will have more passion for the AFLW in 2021.
The research suggests that sports fans (who are classified as people that follow sport closely) are even more connected to their teams than they were a year ago, perhaps because sport has been a welcome distraction and provided relief from the pandemic. However, non-supporters have been less connected to sports teams during the pandemic.
“Over the past six months, women, those aged 30-39, on lower incomes, living alone or single parents have watched less sport,” the report from True North Research says.
“This reflects the impact of the additional mental and financial load of COVID-19 on key demographic groups. It also reinforces how important the social side of sport is to maintaining audiences.”
The research highlights that people in Queensland have been more engaged with sport during the pandemic – a clear consequence of AFL and Super Netball setting up hubs in the state. In contrast, 3 in 10 Victorians have watched less sport.
“Sports followers, both in Victoria and other states, refer to the negative impact COVID-19 has had, including the inability to attend matches, changes to the game, lacking in atmosphere, the shorter season and feeling excluded from the action.”
The study was based on a sample of 3,822 Australian residents aged over 16 and is the fifth wave in a series on emotional connection in sport. In this wave, that was conducted in October, 14 national and state teams, and 42 winter league teams from AFL, NRL and Super Netball were evaluated.
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