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Novak Djokovic: Rule-Breaker or Fighting Hero? – The Power of Framing

4 mins read

The tennis player Novak Djokovic flew to Australia in December 2021 to compete in the Australian Open. The only problem is, he flew there without being vaccinated. The perfect set-up for a public drama.

While he stayed in quarantine in a hotel until the problems got resolved, his Serbian supporters reported on the Australian government holding their star “hostage”.

The Australian entry restrictions were clear. Many players either planned with the quarantine or got vaccinated in the first place. Djokovic seems to have forgotten about it. Now, he might even be persecuted for a fraud Covid test but that is another story.

So, how is it possible to frame a story in so many opposite ways?

  1. Cultural differences

His supporters protested in front of the hotel for a long time, demanding to “abolish deportation”. It is easy to shake your head at those people and dismiss this idea that looks crazy from a British point of view.

The vaccine has had widely positive responses and while not everyone is on the same boat, the public idea of vaccine support is societally accepted.

The cultural differences between Serbia, however, show how citizens from another country, with different backgrounds and political stances, can perceive an event differently. Eastern countries have been critical about the vaccine in general. A history of suppression top-down has made the everyday person cynical towards extreme rules and any signs of foreign control.

2. The information bubbles

The digital environment at the current allows everyone to rely on their sources. Once you consume something similar things pop up in your feeds and the bubble of opinions and knowledge expands in a very specific niche of the internet. This supports confirmation biases and can be a reason for even more polarisation in social spheres.

3. The Halo-effect

Djokovic is a successful tennis player with a big fan group. If you look at the story from an objective point of view a man flew to a country and didn’t follow the Covid-guidelines. Just like any other person he is being held accountable for his actions. However, since he is a person with a previous public persona, the opinions vary. Suddenly it is not about a random man anymore. It is about Novak Djokovic. The Halo-effect describes the phenomenon of people associating everything connected to a positive connotated person with something positive as well. That is why companies pay millions of dollars to celebrities to advertise their products. Beyonce wearing Tiffany & Co. makes it even more precious and exclusive.

The Halo effect has a lot to do with news as well. Our first reaction to new information is pre-determined by our previous opinions. And these are pre-determined by or information bubble. And the information bubble is pre-determined by upbringing and culture.

You see what I am trying to say.

The story about Djokovic can make many angry. Rightly so. Since he is a public figure, he holds even more responsibility. But it shows the lack of knowledge and the confusion around news as well, especially when it comes to Covid.

Compassion and a healthy discussion towards and with one another seems a bit more efficient than pure anger and resentment.

Don’t you agree?

Feature Image Credit: Eurosport

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