Study says LeBron James is ‘by far’ the most trolled athlete in the world

According to a new study by Pickwise, NBA star for the Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James is the number one most trolled athlete on social media in the world.

Pickwise, a sports betting website, surveyed more than half a million abusive tweets over the past twelve months sent to current and former professional athletes from around the globe. Overall, James received the majority of those abusive tweets with roughly 122,000 directed at him, which is an average of nearly 336 per day.

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United soccer player, came in second with far fewer hateful messages than James at just over 32,000. James and Rashford were followed by NFL quarterback Tom Brady in third, NBA player Kevin Durant in fourth, and NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace in fifth (Outsider).  

To collect this information, Pickwise says, “Messages containing words, phrases, and hashtags that were known abusive terms were logged against each player and the respective sport they play/played in.” The study was conducted in order “to showcase what elite athletes now have to live with” due to “the accessibility afforded by social media.”

While the precise reason James bore the brunt of the hate is unclear, he has stepped out as an increasingly political figure, using his platform to raise awareness about police violence and voting rights issues over the past year. James was involved in the 2020 election as he helped form a group aimed at battling voter disenfranchisement in primarily black communities.

Additionally, Reuters reports, “He also has helped push the National Basketball Association to recognize racial justice issues and the Black Lives Matter movement, including the decision to postpone playoff games … after a player boycott to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in Wisconsin.”  

Professional athletics became the political hotbed seen today after NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016. As this form of protest and its variations spread across sports, differing opinions emerged regarding whether or not elite athletes should use their job as a way to make a statement.

Pew Research reports that overall, 62% percent of U.S. adults believe it is “very or somewhat acceptable for professional athletes to speak out publicly about political issues, while 35% say this is not too or not at all acceptable.”


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