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Internet Trolls: Tolling on Athletes

BY ALLISON LUTHMAN | Ball State Sports Link
Internet trolls. The slang name given to people who start arguments with the intent to upset people by posting inflammatory messages on an online forum with the deliberate intent or provoking others into anger or shame.

Unfortunately, what started as a few comments here and there have turned into a major force that is taking a serious hit on even the most celebrated sites, such as NPR, who is preparing to suspend any comments on their posts.

Lately, some of our favorite athletes have been taking heat from these hidden users.

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One of many memes made from Michael Jordan crying during his HOF inauguration speech in 2009.

We’ve all seen the “crying Jordan” memes after Michael Jordan cried during his Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in 2009. An app has even been created where users can make their own memes with the basketball legend’s face.

LeBron James’ hairline has been a topic of discussion among social media and trolls before almost every major game for years.

Steph Curry’s shoe line was ridiculed relentlessly. Though, he let everyone know that the comments would not stop his style.

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Steph Curry wears his shoes in spite of internet trolls.

Recently, Gabby Douglas made world history for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team but, instead of being celebrated, one of the biggest focuses of media and internet trolls was her hair.

      “When they talk about my hair or me not putting my hand up on my heart or me being very salty in the stands, they’re really criticizing me, and it doesn’t really feel good,” Douglas said, her eyes tearing up. “It was a little bit hurtful,” said Douglas to the Washington Post.

Douglas admits she was personally hurt by comments left on the internet.

How many other celebrities are emotionally damaged by jabs thrown from behind a keyboard? It is easy to forget that our superhero icons are, indeed, humans with emotions.

In 2013, ESPN attempted to stop trolling by requiring a Facebook log-in to leave comments on their site. The idea was that people would be less likely to say hateful things if the words could be traced back to them.

This did help, but did not solve the problem. Even with complete disclosure of name, photo and location, the comments still even went as far as containing death threats.

So, popular sites with a trolling problem are left with a decision.

Do they completely remove their comment area and spare the emotions of the victims of possible racist, cruel or even threatening comments? Or do they continue to attempt to mar these internet attacks without guarantee of success?

What do you think? (Yes, our comments are, for the time being, open.)

About Allison Luthman (2 Articles)
Allison is a Junior at Ball State University majoring in Journalism and Telecommunications.

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