9 April 2020

Canberra sports stars getting closer to their fans despite social isolation

| Tim Gavel
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Nick Kyrgios making the most of his time helping others. Photo:Supplied.

Nick Kyrgios established a supportive initiative to give to others during the COVID-19 shutdown. Photo: Supplied.

The social media images of Canberra basketball star Patty Mills playing requests on his guitar, or Nick Kyrgios offering to home deliver food to those doing it tough is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to engagement with fans during the shutdown of sport.

Mills, who lives in Texas, not only plays quarantine request songs on his guitar under the #thrillswithmills handle on Twitter, he also provides healthy living tips, suggesting fresh natural products and limited processed food as the best option, while at the same time encouraging people to stay home.

On his Facebook page, Kyrgios has offered to home deliver food to anybody doing it tough

“Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or milk, I will drop it at your doorstep, no questions asked,” he posted.

Eight-times World BMX and Mountain Bike champion Caroline Buchanan offers regular healthy eating and exercise tips to her many followers on social media, often demonstrating her own exercise regime at home, as well as responding to questions posted to her.

The Raiders and the Brumbies have also upped their engagement during the shutdown with players proactively using social media to communicate with supporters.

The Raiders, although still posting their regular podcast, have introduced a new offering with players answering questions from members. On Monday, you can get to know Josh Papalii a bit better.

The Brumbies have also increased their social media content as a means to stay connected with fans. Lachlan McCaffrey hosts a segment with the running title of Locky’s Lockdown in which he interviews his teammates while at the same time answering questions from the public.

Capital Football issued a social media challenge to followers of the code to post a football photo each day. They are also hosting online coaching workshops.

If nothing else the shutdown has proven that sportspeople and sports in Canberra are more than capable of innovating to remain engaged and relevant while no sport is actually taking place.

There’s also a chance that the new methods of engagement will continue once the shutdown is over and we are once again participating in, and watching our favourite sports.

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I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m really not missing these sports stars at all. I was a bit upset when COVID-19 started that sports events had all stopped, but as isolation has dragged on we haven’t heard about nightclub incidents, sex scandals, temper tantrums and all the rest. By being taken out of circulation, the publicity stunts have completely stopped and we’ve all had a welcome break. When COVID-19 ends I would imagine that the monetary value of these sports stars has been cut considerably as it is painfully obvious that they need us far more than we need them.

Capital Retro8:50 am 11 Apr 20

I don’t think it would be popular with the voters if governments were seen to bail out these businesses masquerading as professional sports people.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a return to amateur sports? We could have a local RL competition with teams from Tuggeranong, Weston, Gungahlin and Queanbeyan participating. That would pull the crowds.

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