Should Active Top Athletes Get Married?

by Dr. Timothy Thompson 07-17-2009 05:03 PM

Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock has a compelling point in his recent article about athletes and marriage: He says that if you're an active college or professional athlete, you shouldn't fool yourself about being able to exercise the Herculean level of personal discipline that would be required for you to be faithful to a spouse.

I agree (generally speaking).  While I'm not one to say that all doctors, lawyers, military personnel, auto mechanics, or carpenters (you get my drift here, I hope) should make the same choice because of the intense demands of their professions, I also know that it's extremely important for us all to be honest with ourselves.  The fact is that high-level athletes are constantly exposed to all kinds of temptations, and they usually have no one to rely on that can also talk them out of making the most expedient decisions in the heat of the moment.

Let me remind you of what I said in a previous article on The Real Athlete Blog, "Dialing up True Love While Temptation is on the Other Line."  I concluded that message to athletes in the following way:

"The bottom line is, don’t allow yourself to believe the hype that sports fans and the media generate about you and other high profile athletes.  Since temptation is always staring you in the face, you need to be more disciplined than they are.   Even though they may think they want to live a life like yours, they don’t see that all you really want to do is play the sport you love, and give and receive authentic love like anyone else."

Of course, I talked about self-discipline in that hopeful way because I don't want to underestimate anyone's strength of character.  However, the ugly truth is that very few high-level male athletes can muster the restraint to resist sexual advances from fans who are both attractive and adoring.  That's understandable too, in light of the fact that if you're a high profile athlete, you know that not enough of your admirers are inclined to deny you what you want.

Temptation is indeed seductive, and constant temptation is addictive.  So since you're certain to face constant temptation while you're a high profile athlete,  why on earth would you place yourself in a position that will all but guarantee that you can't live up to your wedding vows?

Essentially then, getting married while you're experiencing constant temptation is somewhat like playing a game with your arms tied behind your back, because you'll be unable to defend yourself adequately against certain types of actions taken by others, and you'll also be limited in the kinds of initiatives you can take.  On the other hand, why be in a hurry to get married anyway, since most athletic playing careers are over before the player's 35th birthday anyway?

I do understand, though, that you may feel great pressure to stay true to the family values that were instilled in you as you were growing up.  After all, marriage is an important part of our lives that we need to honor and preserve, and clearly, the generally agreed-upon best way to honor and preserve marriage is to keep it monogamous.

But it's hard enough to remain monogamous over a long period of time even if you're not having a steady stream of sexual advances thrown at you. So if you're a high profile athlete, the likelihood that you'll be able to stay faithful to your spouse is very small, given all the traveling and public appearances that you do.  Therefore, the last thing you need to add to your plate is guilt.

I'll end my remarks with the observation that you have plenty of pressure to face as it is, with your need to stay on top of your personal game, to win, and to make public appearances on behalf of your program and or league.  So to avoid complicating your life unnecessarily, you're best move is probably to wait on the nuptials until you can vastly improve your odds of honoring your spouse, your family, and the institution of marriage.

Published 07-17-2009 © 2023 Access Athletes, LLC


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