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Mentor

Nathaniel Frederick, Ph.D.

Major

Mass Communication

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Professional athletes have engaged in several methods of activism to show their discontent with President Donald Trump, including forgoing the traditional White House visit for teams who win national championships. This form of protest has headlined the national media, especially since President Trump has personally uninvited players and teams through Twitter. NBA superstars, such as LeBron James, also took to Twitter to attack and criticize the president, resulting in a cascade of tweets from NBA players with disparaging remarks about the president. This research will analyze and categorize Twitter users’ replies to these tweets. Results show that most of the tweet replies were negative towards the NBA players and there were six emergent themes: President Trump, stick to sports and athletic ability, agreement, respect/honor, and President Obama. Overall, the analysis of the tweet replies revealed that though athletes are expected to use their platform and influence, they are not always welcome to express their political opinions and if they do, their voices will be minimized, and their characters attacked as a form of discouragement. Through distraction and detraction, athlete opinion is often spun into conversations that are irrelevant and purposeless. It also identifies a need for more intersectionality between race, sports, and politics.

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