The Olympics are over for another year and, as we know, Britain excelled itself, attaining record totals of medals and achievements. Of course, this is amazing for our athletes (and their coaches, families and supporters), but what about the audience at home?
List of 2016 Summer Olympics medal winners
Disruptive Insight decided to do a bit of digging around the data from the Olympics to see what the at-home audience had to say. Are people truly inspired?
“The most important thing in The Olympic Games is not to win but to take part”
One of the key themes discussed on Twitter was that of inspiration. Whether being inspired to try new sports, take up a sport that you used to do, or to encourage young people to participate.

On Twitter, this was reflected in people’s positivity towards the Games overall:

  • The Olympics is inspiring in so many areas
  • Love how sports brings people together
  • Going for a family bike ride

Most significantly, one person showed his appreciation of how funding has helped with these successes:

“I now 100% support lottery funding”.

That sport looks good… might try it!

The Olympics is one of the few times that people sit down in front of a television to watch sports such as shooting, fencing and handball. These led to people expressing a desire to try these new (to them) sports.

  • Watching handball, definitely want to give it a try
  • Might think about giving hockey a try
  • I like this fencing – sign me up
  • Is there anywhere that we can try fencing in Carlisle?
  • I’d love to try shooting

One sport that really dominated the conversation was ‘Women’s Rugby’. Many people had never experienced women’s rugby, or were even aware that it existed. Team GB’s success in getting to the Bronze Medal match showed some immediate effects on the sport at home, with one local club tweeting that 22 women had signed up to the join the club already.

Quick win for sports clubs and brands – if your sport is doing well in a global, national or even a local tournament then shout about it! This is the best time to attract new players and encourage people back!
Rio Test Event Day2 Session1 – Lisa Whiteside GBR W.P. (3:0) (Left) vs. Grazieli Jesus De Sousa BRA (Right) – Women’s 51 kg by AIBA


Olympics Inspiring me to be Lazier

A more light-hearted theme emerging in the data was people joking that sitting watching the Olympics was actually making them lazier. With people saying that they found it difficult to get up, they were missing their usual gym sessions to stay in and watch sport, being tired at work from staying up late, and inspired to eat more!

Quick win for the UK Government: there’s never been a better time to promote the Couch to 5K app. After all, people are openly admitting that they are glued to their sofas but want to be fitter!

It’s Never Too Late

Age was proven to be just a number at The Olympics, with Twitter users celebrating horse rider and multiple medal winner Nick Skelton as the “Poster boy for the over 50s”. Other people of a certain age admitted that the Olympics had inspired them to get fitter, for example:

  • We’ve already signed up for the Glasgow half marathon
  • Might go for a run – I’m inspired to get fit
  • I’ve already signed up for the Great Scottish Run

Rio Olympic Games 5,000 meters medal ceremony by Tim Hipps


I used to do that… I’m going to do it again

A common theme was shown in the data, that of people reflecting on how they used to play sports but no longer do (usually with no reason given as to why). Watching these sports, and being inspired by the successes led to many people expressing desire to go back to them, including:

  • Hopefully will take up basketball again
  • I’m going back to Judo
  • I want to play rugby again
  • I’m going for a run
  • Inspired to go back to playing hockey

Quick wins: sports clubs should consider special ‘Post-Olympic’ promotions to encourage people back to sport.

What about the next generation?

Arguably one of the most important points coming out of the Olympic successes – how can we ensure that this carries on with British school children? The data didn’t disappoint, with people commenting positively on seeing more children trying to be the next Jason Kenny and Laura Trott and riding their bikes to school.

One mum shared a photo of her children pretending to fence using dried spaghetti. Another shared her child’s excitement at watching The Olympics and declaring after every event “I’m going to do that when I am 13!”

A tennis club tweeted its excitement in 23 new kids signing up (potentially inspired by Andy Murray’s gold medal?).

Quick wins: special offers for clubs/sports (e.g. try me for free) to encourage children’s participation in sports. With recent research showing that UK girls are becoming more unhappy, (especially around their appearance) parents should continue to encourage interest in sport and healthy role models.

What next?

As people expressed their sadness that it was all over (but glad to get some of their lives back!), we need to try and keep some of this positivity going. In a time where Britain has been a great political turmoil, encouraging the Team GB spirit should be a priority.

While ITV attempted to encourage people to get out and participate through the One Hour Shut Off in support of the I am Team GB campaign from ITV and The National Lottery, there is a need for media outlets to do more to encourage people to try new sports.

For those of you who are already missing the Olympics don’t despair. The Paralympics starts on the 7th September, and if you thought that Rio 2016 was inspirational, wait until you see what these guys can do!

The Nilton Santos (Engenhao) Olympic Stadium in Rio by drowned

The data in this blog was powered by Brandwatch Analytics Platform and was taken from Twitter data pulled from 20 July to 30 August 2016.

© Disruptive Insight 2015.