Novak Djokovic, the world’s top male tennis star who was caught in a controversy over his unvaccinated status that could bar him from competing in the Australian Open, is now admitting he broke COVID-19 rules and included false statements in his application. And even if Australian officials relent and let him place, he can expect to hear plenty of booing.

“I don’t like his arrogance,” one local told CBS News. “I feel he’s come across as he’s above it all.”

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Similar criticism has been following Green Bay Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers since it came out a while back that he, too, had misled people about his vaccination status.

To some, they’re arrogant COVID-19 scofflaws. To others, they’re just standing up for what they believe in.

Dan Lebowitz of Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society says it’s a sign of the times.

“People align themselves with beliefs rather than stand behind truths,” he says. “Celebrity drives so much of our world, and in the context of that celebrity-driven world, we’ve lost a lot around what I would consider our moral center of fact, and we’ve moved more into a post-truth era of beliefs.”

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You see it in politics, where campaigns are often more about choosing up sides based on image and perceived character than about issues and policies. And in this polarized, politicized pandemic, celebrity behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated from an ordinary Joe or Jane becomes just another thing to argue about on social media.

People are “not looking at Aaron Rodgers so much as coming out for or against vaccination; they look at him as someone who stood up for something he believed in,” observes Lebowitz. “We tend to elevate the status right now of people who seem to be consistent with their own beliefs, rather than try to look at those beliefs against the backdrop of what would the betterment of society look like.”

Lebowitz notes that Rodgers and Djokovic are outliers in the sports world, with the vast majority of all players in the pro leagues complying with vaccination requirements. “The WNBA had a 99% vaccination rate before boosters,” he says. “Let’s all be like the WNBA.”

Former NBA great turned sportscaster Charles Barkley created a stir back in the early 1990s when he warned people against looking to athletes as role models. “Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids,” he said in a famous Nike ad.

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For those like another NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’ve begged stars to use their celebrity to promote vaccination, it’s a huge disappointment. But to Lebowitz, it’s the way we live now, for better or worse.