Zion Williamson’s weight was scrutinized before he played one minute in the NBA. He’s gained weight in the offseason,And prominent critics like Kenny Smith and Charles BarkleyHe is being called out. Where’s the line between harsh criticism and straight-up body shaming? Let’s take a look.
There’s a reason Williamson has drawn comparisons to a young Barkley: he’s nimble, ferocious, and big. Williamson uses his weight in order to penetrate the paint. His size is an advantage, but lately, it’s been getting out of control.
An ankle injury has severely limited Williamson’s ability to work out. He’s arrived at the New Orleans Pelicans weighing over 300 pounds. The photos of Williamson now and during his rookie season are amazing. NBA legends and analysts are relentless in their coverage of young players, so it’s not surprising that Williamson’s body is ruffling feathers.
Simply lose weight
Inside the NBASmith was the mainstay of the economy until recently asked by TMZ about Williamson’s body. Smith offered advice: “The easiest part is he’ll figure out how to eat less. It’s not hard when it’s your profession. He works hard to be a great basketball player. He’ll figure out those hours he needs to keep his body right.” He followed this with a rather glib comment: “it’s not hard, just eat less.”
Others were less kind. Barkley, who was also dogged by weight questions his entire career, said Williamson looked like “me and Shaq had a baby.” Barkley added that pointed barbs actually helped him get his act together. Moses Malone once called him “lazy and fat,” and it forced him to change his perspective. In Barkley’s eyes, these jokes are just a form of tough love.
Where is the Line?
Tabloids attack people’s bodies all the time. Nearly every celebrity is either too large, or too small. Sports analysis involves the study of bodies. Analysts are required to judge people’s height and weight. Staying in shape is more important when you have million-dollar contracts with the state.
Shawn Kemp and Pablo Sandoval are two examples of athletes who have signed with certain teams because they don’t have a weight requirement. It’s fair to question someone’s conditioning, but some of these words cross the line.
Smith’s comments are akin to telling someone with depression to simply be happy. ESPN has been criticized body-shaming WilliamsonDuring his games. There’s a difference between athletes being out of shape and simply being big.
Williamson is more knowledgeable than anyone about how to care for his body. It’s so easy to forget that Williamson is still growing. He’s only 21-years-old and physically couldn’t do cardio for months. He’s got all season to get into better shape. As for now, he’s an interesting case study for the difference between fair criticism and body shaming. It’s extremely easy to teeter into the latter, even with the best of intentions.