In vaccination battles, pro athletes become proxy players

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Athletes have been put at center court of arguments over COVID vaccines. The NFL’s Aaron Rodgers, the NBA’s Kyrie Irving, and tennis’s Novak Djokovic, have each become cultural touchstones in the cultural controversy. Robert Hayashi, a professor at Amherst College, says it’s part of a historic trend where Americans look to “sports to give us an answer or clarify issues in the larger culture.” Mark Harvey, a professor who studies celebrity influence on culture, says opinions around vaccines have become so solidified that it’s unlikely famous athletes have a significant effect on whether an average person gets vaccinated.