Football Versus National Service: A Case Study Exploration of Facebook Comments on the Ben Davis Saga

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Singaporean footballer Ben Davis applied for deferment from national service (NS) in order to pursue his dream of playing in the English Premier League. However, his deferment request was rejected by the Ministry of Defense, and there was a sizable national debate on whether Davis should be granted the deferment. The study sought to use the Ben Davis saga as a case study to provide an exploration of public opinion toward various issues relating to sport and society. A total of 14,093 comments were extracted from various news sources on Facebook, and a randomized sample of 1,875 comments was used for the final analysis. The constant comparative methodology was used to conduct a thematic analysis of the comments. The analysis produced four higher order themes: (a) sport in Singapore, (b) role and relevance of NS, (c) national interest versus individual choice, and (d) perception of new citizens and foreign talent.

Ong (natong89@hotmail.com) is with the Sport Science and Medicine Center, Singapore Sport Institute, Sport Singapore, Singapore.

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