By Arya Bari
Influencers and their actions have a great impact on their supporters and society as a whole. After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic dissipated, the world was left eager to return to ‘normal.’ Many influencers shared their thoughts on the virus during and post quarantine. The creation of a COVID-19 vaccine was the world’s only hope for return. When Pfizer and Moderna released their vaccines, individuals of the world, including influencers, were forced to decide whether or not they were in favor of getting vaccinated.
Kyrie Irving, a National Basketball Association (NBA) player, decided he did not stand for mandatory vaccination and would not get vaccinated. Irving is an influencer in the realm of sports. His decision took a toll on his fan base and even how specific Harbord students view him. Violet Evans Maxwell, a ninth-grade former Raptors fan, shared her opinion on Irving and his vaccination status (or lack thereof): “I didn’t really know [Kyrie Irving] before he refused to get vaccinated. I think he should get vaccinated because he’s endangering people and his spot on the [Brooklyn Nets].”
The requirements to play in the NBA include proof of vaccination. Even though $40 million was the predicted salary for the Brooklyn Nets player, Irving stood his ground. Irving’s lack of belief in the COVID-19 vaccine has impacted some Harbord students who support the player and appreciate his talent. “Good. Really good player. Is [Irving] the best on his team, probably not, but he’s good,” claims an avid sports fan in ninth grade when asked about Irving and his abilities on the court. This same ninth-grader was then asked about their thoughts on Irving’s lack of vaccination: “He’s not getting vaccinated because he wants to be the voice of the unheard,” in other words, the anti-vaxxers. This student’s answer might have been different if Irving had mentioned the risk he was putting others in by not getting vaccinated.
Other student supporters of Kyrie Irving have different opinions on the topic than that of the student mentioned above, but this situation displays the amount of influence that a decision made by an influencer can have. Two different sports fans shared opinions about the same player, one with an inclination towards Irving getting vaccinated and the other believing Irving’s declaration. This raises the question, should influencers be permitted to disclose personal information to the media, knowing the negative effects there are on supporters?