Not even the toughest football, rugby or American football players are tough enough to deal with hate speech with tranquility. People online say things they would never say in person and the big piece of anonymity is supporting the toxicity. Many athletes confirm they don’t read the discussions under their posts and some even turn it off.
“I want to put stuff out there. If you don’t like what I write, then don’t fucking send it to me” reacted James Haskell.
People make mistakes and even top athletes are only people. With each mistake in personal or professional life we see a big group of “morality and perfection guardians” raising their voice in anonymous discussions, and they do it without any consequences.
In real life if you run behind anybody calling him stupid names or wishing him death, you take consequences. If you are doing it online, you mostly get away with that. Many publicly exposed people hope for a change in the law. There are no attempts to restrict free speech, but rather to make haters responsible for their action.