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Retired athletes Steve Harmison and Wesley Sneijder recently went viral over being fat, but I feel we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Just prior to last night’s historic Ashes collapse/chase, we were treated by the visage of our previous tormentor, Steve Harmison, a chap made famous by ‘The Wide’, a man who is now (according to the internet) living his legacy.
According to the comment box folks, Harmison had “gone from bowling pies to eating them”, and “the only deliveries this guy is into now is uber eats”. If the tall poppy grows, it does here as well as abroad, as the concept of the athlete who let himself go is a constant source of mirth. This morning, the internet also bristled at the new Wesley Sneijder, the Dutch midfield maestro who went from this to this in two weeks.
There are more examples, with Adriano being more famous for his “fall” than his on-field exploits, the legendary Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima now colloquially known as ‘Fat Ronaldo’, or Antonio Cassano, the ex-Real Madrid, Internazionale and Sampdoria striker who said that he followed up sex with four pastries. He later noted that he bedded 600-700 women.
In his own words, Cassano is a “problematic guy”, but should be our icon held aloft. Real Madrid famously fined him for every gram he was over the weight they set, and Cassano repeatedly promised that he would let himself go in retirement, stating in 2012 that he’s “…still certain that when I finish playing football I’m going to get very fat.”
Obviously, Sneijder has gained weight, but on a larger point, who cares? The life of the athlete is an unhealthy one, three decades of ignoring the fried, salted or crispy parts of the menu, of daily cardiovascular tortures, of the infinite counting of one’s calories. These characters have surrendered themselves to the decadence of wealth and celebrity, and why not?
We may derisively bind them under the statement of them “enjoying their retirement”, but if you were a multi-millionaire retiree in your late thirties, would you bother with the gym?