First impressions are wrong half the time - Body-shaming athletes a poor start

By Melissa Talbert May 25, 2020

When I told my friend I was dedicating this blog to footballers like him, right off the bat he knew what I meant. Fat footballers.

Generally, fat means sluggish, lazy, slow and unskilled. Well, he’s no stranger to hearing these stereotypes. And he’s no stranger to overcoming them either.

For about 11 years his weight overshadowed small wins like going to four finals, receiving two medals and playing for Ardenne Prep, Jamaica College, Greater Portmore, Naggo Head and Duhaney Park.

“There was this one time when I went to a match and the opposing coach explained to his players that the right side of the field is the weaker side because there is a big fat boy on there— and there’s no way that this big fat boy can contain any of the players.”

Sportsmen and women are seen as the best physical specimens because they perform feats many of us can only dream of. Being overweight pokes holes into that ideal with the reaction from fans and even those inside sports like coaches and managers being to misjudge a player’s value and ability.

“I played numerous positions— forward, midfielder, defender. I enjoyed the defending position most. I engaged in tackles and used my brain to contain quick and skilful players. We had to set up different walls to contain corner and free kicks. It was like guiding a ship!”

Despite possessing obvious ability, my friend’s body-shaming continued unabated. Body shaming is criticizing or drawing attention to someone’s shape, size or appearance.

Teammates, players’ parents— it came from all directions. The taunting was overbearing. “Some of the people who body-shamed me were parents, coaches, players, teammates and friends. When I was in prep school, a player’s parent expressed that she doesn’t understand why her son is sitting on the bench when there is a fat boy on the field. She wondered what I had over her son.”

“Another example is in high school, a coach was giving out letters for summer training. He said to me that he doesn’t allow fat players on his team and the only way I’d get a letter was if I did something about my weight.

“I asked him if he did anything about it (his weight). He explained that he has always been on the chubbier side. He’s naturally big and so is his family. He then started to tell me how diets and portion control never work for him.

“To put him out of his misery, I asked if there was an upside to the misconceptions others had of him. I’ve definitely changed some minds. It was the beginning of the football season when all my teammates were talking about who was going to be captain. My coach didn’t announce the captain until minutes before the match. While spectators waited outside the dressing room for us, my coach turned to me and gave me the captain’s armband and told me that I’ll be leading the team for the rest of the season.

“I didn’t put on my armband before walking out of the dressing room but I led my team out. Usually, the captain leads the team to the game. I could hear spectators asking if I was the captain or not. As I approached the field I asked my fellow teammate to put the armband around my left arm to show the spectators, the rest of the team and the opposing team who was the actual captain.

“The coach saw me play the year before and knew I was capable.”

I wanted our discussion to end on a happy note. Still, I asked him if body shaming affected him in any way. He said ‘no.’

I wasn’t convinced because he remembered the remarks to a ‘t’; as if they were freshly said. I figured they lingered.

I didn’t bother to tell him that part because I’d rather tell you guys this:

Please be kinder to players who look like my friend. In no way is body shaming okay.

Rahkeem Cornwall debuted for the West Indies on August 30, 2019, against India.

Cornwall does not look like the average cricketer, lean and powerful, light on his or her feet, yet, in just his second match, against Afghanistan in Lucknow, he was the region’s best bowler, grabbing 7-75 and 3-46.

He also showed in the CPL that he is a dangerous batsman when he gets going and can take a game away from a team with his batting and bowling. At the first-class level, Cornwall has already taken over 300 wickets in just 62 games.

From Jimbo’s example, maybe there’s something to be said about staying your judgements.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Related items

  • 'They didn't take us lightly' - Windies coach Simmons dismisses notion England underestimated team 'They didn't take us lightly' - Windies coach Simmons dismisses notion England underestimated team

    West Indies coach Phil Simmons was quick to dismiss any suggestions that England underestimated the team heading into the first Test last week.

    On the back of a responsible 95 from Windies batsman Jermaine Blackwood, and a 9-wicket haul from pace bowler Shannon Gabriel, the regional team claimed a 1-0 lead after a 4-wicket win in Southampton, on Sunday.  With the omission of veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad from the first Test, however, former England captain Nasser Hussain suggested the hosts may have underestimated the West Indies.  England instead, opted for a line-up that included Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and James Anderson.

     "Hats off to West Indies for a super performance, but I'd like to ask England one question. If this had been the first game of the Ashes, would they have left out Stuart Broad?" Hussain asked in his post-match analysis.

    Simmons has, however, refuted any suggestions of underestimation.

    “I don’t think so.  England is a professional unit and I would not expect that from them. I think they thought on the day they needed to bat first.  Maybe they looked at how the match would end, the wicket and how dry it was at the time,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

    “There are many factors why they could have batted first. I don’t want to speculate but I don’t think they took us for granted,” he added.

    “I think there is a choice between five quality bowlers, so one had to sit out.  It came to Broad that day but there are three back-to-back Test matches and England has maybe five or six Test matches, so sometimes we think that’s the way we have to go.”

    The West Indies and England have had competitive outings in the last two Test match series between the teams.  The West Indies also won a Test match, in England, in 2017, before claiming the Wisden Trophy with a 2-1 win over England in the Caribbean last year.

  • Championship: Wigan score eight against feeble Hull, West Brom falter Championship: Wigan score eight against feeble Hull, West Brom falter

    Wigan Athletic humiliated Hull City 8-0 as the Championship relegation battle took an extraordinary twist - while West Brom might be wobbling near the top.

    Kieran Dowell hit a hat-trick for Wigan, who remarkably led Hull 7-0 at half-time. Wigan sit in mid-table but are fighting for survival in the second tier because of an administration penalty hanging over the club, and this result was a huge step towards safety.

    West Brom have looked on track for automatic promotion for weeks, but a slip in form from Slaven Bilic's men could see Brentford pip them at the post.

    Second-placed West Brom could only draw 0-0 at home against fourth-placed Fulham, meaning Brentford can close to within a point of the Baggies with two rounds of games remaining should they beat Preston North End on Wednesday.

    WONDER AT WIGAN

    Wigan were the talk of English football after their first-half seven-goal show.

    The only saving grace for Hull, and frustration for Wigan, was that no supporters were present to witness one of the most eye-catching results in English football all season.

    Wigan savagely picked apart the free-falling Tigers and climbed to 13th place in the division.

    They became the first team to score seven or more goals in one half of a match in either the Premier League or the three tiers of the EFL since Watford came from 2-0 down to beat Blackpool 7-2 with a second-half flurry in January 2015.

    Aside from Dowell's treble, Kieffer Moore netted twice and there were goals for Kal Naismith, who set the ball rolling in the first minute, Jamal Lowe and Joe Williams.

    Wigan stand to receive a 12-point punishment for entering administration, a troubling development that followed a recent takeover of the club, but they are fighting to avoid that meaning relegation.

    The win neatly moved them 12 points clear of Hull, who sit 22nd and are a point adrift of safety, with the Tigers having a suddenly vastly inferior goal difference to Wigan.

    BAGGIES BLOWING IT?

    West Brom and Leeds have been trading first place in the Championship, but there could be a surprise in the promotion shake-up.

    By failing to find a way through Fulham's defence, West Brom's hold on second place has become increasingly tenuous, given fast-finishing Brentford are on a seven-game winning streak.

    Fulham's Anthony Knockaert hit the bar in the second half at the Hawthorns, where the outcome could have been even worse for West Brom.

    Cardiff City kept a grip on sixth place as goals from Junior Hoilett and Lee Tomlin earned a 2-1 home win over Derby County.

    Just outside the play-offs, Millwall sit seventh after a 1-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers, Mason Bennett with the only goal.

    WARNOCK DELIVERS

    Ashley Fletcher and Patrick Roberts scored for Middlesbrough in a 2-1 win at Reading that carried Neil Warnock's side five points clear of the bottom three.

    Liam Moore had put the hosts ahead before Boro, who appointed veteran manager Warnock as Jonathan Woodgate's replacement last month, turned it around.

    Among those worse off than Boro, Huddersfield Town picked up a useful point in a 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, while second-bottom Luton Town were held 1-1 at home by QPR.

  • ‘Things headed in right direction’ – Blackwood rejects criticism of regional cricket ‘Things headed in right direction’ – Blackwood rejects criticism of regional cricket

    Windies batsman Jermaine Blackwood has leapt to the defense of Caribbean regional cricket, strongly disagreeing with those who disparage the competition.

    For some, the West Indies' recent and consistent failure on the international stage, in recent years, is in large part due to regional players being unable to attain the competitive standard required for international cricket, after taking part in a substandard regional competition.

    In several instances, players that have dominated the regional season have gone on to struggle against international opponents, once called up for the West Indies.  Blackwood, who heaped up 768 runs in 15 innings for Jamaica, including a double hundred against the Leeward Islands in the tournament's last match, however, has gone on to register a dominant performance against England.  He believes things are changing.

    “To be honest I don’t pay too much attention to who is taking this or that, everyone has their opinion,” Blackwood told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

    “For me, personally, things are heading in the right direction in the Caribbean.  I think I put in a lot of work to score some runs in the regional 4-dayers and definitely you can see it in my body language and approach to Test cricket now.  So, it has helped me to become the player I am now, and you can see the growth in my batting.”

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.