In Case Anyone Is Wondering, Novak Djokovic Is No Muhammad Ali



In Case Anyone Is Wondering, Novak Djokovic Is No Muhammad Ali
Photo courtesy of Criterion Collection.

It’s no profound statement to say that this modern life is full of way too much outrage about the wrong things. I would largely lay blame for our current condition at the feet of social media, which has allowed people to hide behind internet courage and make proclamations or engage in mean-spirited discourse in a way they would never do in mixed company. Still, some shit can’t be ignored, even when it deserves no oxygen with which to breathe out its foolishness.

Normally, I would look at a post like this on Twitter and simply shake my head and pass it by. But this tweet wasn’t shared by some random goof with 68 followers. No—the guy who shared it has a verified account with 288 thousand followers. You might be wondering why I trimmed off the guy’s name from the image above. To be honest, I not only don’t want to share, speak, or spell his name, I want to do my best to forget it completely. If you are so inclined though, just go to ye olde Twitterverse and type in “Ali Djokovic” into the search field, and you will find this post and the mentally misaligned fellow who wrote it.

What I want to do here is break down just how deeply stupid and disgraceful this post is. On the one hand, you have Muhammad Ali, a man who had his prime illegally taken from him because he would not go to war aganst people of color who never caused him harm for a country that had caused him, and those who shared his complexion, much harm. When Muhammad Ali refused to step forward and accept induction into the United States Military Industrial Complex, he did it not just for himself, but for his people, his religion, and his conviction that a man cannot be forced to serve a country that opposes his own claim to equal rights and treatment under the law.

It is instructive to remember that when Ali (then Cassius Clay) came home to Louisville, Kentucky after winning a Gold Medal for his country at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome, that he could not use many of the bathrooms and water fountains in the place of his birth, nor be served at certain restaurants because of the color of his skin.

Let’s contrast those facts with that of 21-time Grand Slam tennis champion (credit where due, the man swings a mean racket) Novak Djokovic and his anti-vaxxing stance. Djokovic believes that his right to physical autonomy (funny how men don’t like anyone to tell them what to do with their bodies) extends to not getting a free vaccine to not only keep himself safe, but also those he may come into contact with. Since taking its first confirmed life in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed over six million people worldwide.

When facing a health crisis of that magnitude, certain sacrifices can and should be made. Djokovic’s “convictions” such as they are have nothing to do with his own health (the vaccines have proven to be much safer than getting COVID), they are clearly about a man of privilege asserting his selfishness to such a degree that he has been willing to cut his throat to spite his neck.

Sure, not being allowed to attend a handful of tournaments a year has and will continue to cost Djokovic future earnings, but considering that his net worth has been reported at $220,000,000 I suspect he will have no trouble keeping himself out of the bread line or from needing to get his dinners from Meals on Wheels.

What’s most infuriating is how Djokovic has continually flouted COVID rules and restrictions. He gave an interview to a French journalist while having COVID and never revealed his status to the reporter. As if that weren’t enough, he removed his mask during the publication’s ensuing photo shoot for the article. Perhaps the worst example of his callous actions where the health of others is concerned was his decision to attend a PR event where he was seen hugging children one day after testing positive for COVID in December of 2021.

The idea that a person could look at the actions of Ali and Djokovic and somehow equate the merits of these two examples of sticking to one’s principles is enough to make your head explode. Worse yet, this guy has a sizable following on a huge platform. I’m guessing some people are actually eating up this nonsense, because let’s face it, people never fail to disappoint.

I did take some heart in the heated and often hilarious responses to his backward post, but it’s hard to get past the idea that a man who was willing to die for racial equality would ever be compared to a man who is willing to risk his life (and yours) to avoid getting a vaccine.