Today In Totally Awful News: Josh Smith, a junior on the UCLA basketball team, left the team in response to accusations that he simply wasn’t in good enough shape to play — and to a chorus of professional sports commentators and fans claiming he was “too fat.” “I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons,” Smith said in a statement. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here.”
Smith said he had difficulties with training and conditioning, and struggled with his weight. And that, apparently, was enough to make some in the media attack him for it.
Gary Parrish is a nationally syndicated columnist for CBS and the host of a Memphis, TN, talk show. He joked that Smith would be “transferred” to the buffet restaurant Golden Corral. “[It] would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Food has cost this kid millions. That’s not hyperbole.” And then he continued by calling Smith names: “I don’t believe Josh Smith is just lazy. He’s lazy AND addicted to food. I really don’t think he can help himself. Like I said, sad,” he tweeted.
Jason McIntyre, of Big Lead Sports tweeted: “Fat, lazy, Josh Smith quits UCLA basketball.” San Diego State University’s The Show (a rival of UCLA’s) tweeted, “300 lb UCLA PF Josh Smith has decided to leave school. He prob thinks leaving now will save him from our fat jokes.. NOT GONNA HAPPEN FATTY.”
And proving that irony is not dead, a guy whose Twitter handle is @fatbaldguyracin wrote, “UCLA just improved its team bigtime by getting rid of Fat useless lazy Josh Smith, he killed their team. Now maybe they can play hard.” He sells homeloans (his Twitter bio links to his company) in case you need one.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news and fat jokes from the Twittersphere. Rob Dauster, a blogger for SI.com and a college basketball aficionado, advised that “I’d strongly encourage people to stop making Josh Smith fat jokes. This isn’t your buddy that put on a beer belly in college.”
We’re not here to debate whether or not Josh Smith’s weight was an issue in his performance — only to say that the level of discourse surrounding a college athlete’s weight and physical shape is proof that people think it’s still okay to fat shame — and that men are as susceptible to fat-shaming as women. Athletes — both women and men — deserve better than to have their bodies critiqued and insulted in such a baseline, demeaning way. [Yahoo Sports]