In Depth

US election: Who do NFL and NBA stars back in Trump vs Clinton?

America's sports stars show their allegiances in vote that has divided the locker room

Voting is underway in the US presidential election, but how will US sports stars cast their ballots as the nation chooses between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Last month, ESPN canvassed the opinion of almost 100 baseball, basketball, American football and ice hockey stars from the NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA and MLB and found 51.9 per cent backed Clinton while 28.6 per cent support her Republican rival. Almost 20 per cent backed neither.

More athletes, 32.6 per cent, considered themselves Democrats than Republicans (28.4 per cent), with almost 40 per cent neutral. But "three individual leagues - the NFL, NHL and MLB - lean right more than left", reports ESPN.

With American football fans already split over the national anthem protests of San Franscisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the election - and Trump's campaign in particular - is "tearing the NFL apart", claimed Bleacher Report last month.

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan's decision to endorse the businessman has certainly put the cat among the pigeons. One unnamed member of his team told the website: "I see Trump as someone who is hostile to people of colour and the fact that Rex supports him made me look at him completely differently, and not in a positive way."

Bleacher Report adds: "Scenes of a divided America sparked by the candidate have been replicated inside at least a half-dozen locker rooms of its most popular sport. Some players cite low-level confrontations. Others say friendships have ended."

Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star Lebron James is backing Clinton in the key swing state of Ohio. He appeared at a Democratic rally on election eve, a month after endorsing her in an article for Business Insider.

"Opportunities, a support system, and a safety net for kids in poverty or kids in single-parent households shouldn't be limited to those lucky enough to be blessed with athletic talent," he wrote in the piece.

"When I look at this year's presidential race, it's clear which candidate believes the same thing. Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear.

"That candidate is Hillary Clinton."

But Trump also has some big-name backers, including former basketball star Dennis Rodman and golfer John Daly. This week, the Republican even claimed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had voted for him, says website Newstalk.

"The two men are friends and have been regularly pictured together," it reports. "Despite Trump's revelation, Brady claims he has not yet voted.

"While Brady is the posterboy of the NFL, Clinton seems to have the NBA stars supporting her. Along with LeBron James' help at the weekend, Steph Curry has also given his support to the former Secretary of State," adds the site.

"There will be plenty of tense locker rooms in America come Wednesday morning. Whatever happens, there will be happy sports stars with the result. There will also be plenty who will want the next four years to end as soon as possible."

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