It's no secret that aficionados of fantasy sports, the web-based contests that let fans digitally "own" players to compete in the accumulation of real-world statistics, sometimes take their virtual games a little too seriously.
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Williams received a stream of Twitter abuse from disgruntled fantasy owners after he was held to just six yards on six carries as his Carolina Panthers fell to the Seattle Seahawks. Fans called him foul names and denigrated his football skills. Fed up, Williams posted this tweet shortly after the game:
Dear upset fantasy owners with the bad language you are a fantasy owner for a reason because you can't play or apparently fantasy coach!
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— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 7, 2012
The statement sparked a mix of exacerbated hate and newfound support from fans on social media. It served to only antagonize some already critical fans, while others criticized him for reacting to the barrage of abuse and some praised him for his honestly and standing up for himself.
But as social media continues to narrow the gap between fans and professional athletes, it's something of a surprise that more players don't snipe back at fans in harsher ways than Williams' relatively tame post. Twitter death threats from fans after on-field miscues were a novel concept just several months ago; today they're becoming more and more commonplace. European soccer stars routinely receive racial abuse online. After a flop at the Summer Olympics, British diver Tom Daley gained widespread coverage for outing a hateful fan on Twitter.
While many trolls can seem like off-putting but relatively harmless ignoramuses, pro sports teams and athletes have been burned in recent months after forgetting about the increased power that social media platforms give fans.
In June, NBA star Amar'e Stoudemire faced a league review after a fan went public with a Twitter DM in which Stoudemire called him a gay slur in response to a critical tweet. The NFL's Kansas City Chiefs sent one of their fans a rude Twitter DM in September, but ended up getting an embarrassingly public social media lesson after it turned out they'd picked on someone with a very particular set of social media skills.
How do you think professional athletes should deal with abusive trolls on social media? Give us your take in the comments.
Thumbnail image courtesy @DeAngeloRB
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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