Illegal Procedure: Cheating and Pro Sports
No Matter What the Sport, Players Tempted by Travel, Adoration and Celebrity Status
Adultery in sports isn’t surprising to Doug Krikorian, a sportswriter at The Press-Telegram in Long Beach, Calif. The more time he spent covering athletes,”I came to realize that marital infidelity was a commonplace occurrence on the sporting scene,”
Krikorian wrote in a July 12, 2008, column in the newspaper.
The issue of adulterous athletes isn’t a new one. But it’s certainly garnered more attention since Cynthia Rodriquez filed for divorce from Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriquez, alleging in court documents that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken because of the husband’s extramarital affairs.” A-Rod has been linked to several women, including pop superstar Madonna — a claim The Material Girl has denied.
“Whatever happened and with whom, it’s not a surprising state of affairs”, according to Peter E. Bronstein, a family law attorney with The Bronstein Schuck & Poller Group at Dreier LLP in New York. “Marriages for baseball players are difficult because the players travel a lot,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the National Institute of Marriage, a non-profit Christian counseling service, said travel — for athletes, celebrities or business travelers–often involves competition and sex can be used as a way to celebrate everything from winning a contract to a winning a game, according to a 2007 article in USA Today.
That’s true, says relationship expert Brenda Della Casa, author of “Cinderella Was a Liar,” which offers advice from real-life relationships. “Any career that puts you in a position where you are going to have access to adoring members of the opposite sex and situations where every whim is going to be catered to in terms of sexy vacations, clubs, etc. you are going to face temptation. This is why there is so much cheating that goes on during business trips and conferences. There is a sense of freedom and excess that is not normally there.”
Study results released in 2001 by Steven M. Ortiz, an assistant professor of sociology at Oregon State University, suggested a “culture of adultery” permeated professional sports. Ortiz, who presented his research on survival techniques of athletes’ wives at the American Sociological Association, interviewed the wives of 47 different professional athletes in the four major team sports – football, baseball, basketball, and hockey — over a four-year period.
“One thing that I learned from the interviews is that these women are strong,” Ortiz said shortly after releasing the study. “If they don’t know what the lifestyle is like, they quickly learn. And then they develop strategies to manage that ongoing stress.”
“Money, power, and celebrity are all aphrodisiacs. They draw out temptation like months to a flame. The problem is compounded because the sports figures are on the road for protracted periods, (often) without their spouses,” said New York divorce attorney Daniel E. Clement, who writes a blog about family and divorce law.
Jay P. Granat, aNew York psychotherapist, author, and founder of stayinthezone.com,which focuses on helping athletes achieve peak performance, doesn’t think infidelity is any more frequent amongst athletes than it is among the general population. The issue, he believes, is that “some athletes are used to getting a lot of adoration and attention and some have impulse control issues.”
“It’s not just professional athletes”, said Dr. Gilda Carle, relationship expert for match.com. “The thing about celebs, whether they are sports figures or not, is that civilians throw themselves at them. For better or for worse, famous people are made to be America’s royalty. Before they know it, the celebs buy into all the adulation they get, and they begin to believe their own press. Sports personalities in particular are body-conscious, and their hormones drive them — as well as their fans.”
“Complicating matters”, Granat said,”Because some professional athletes have devoted so much time and energy to their craft, they can be a bit undeveloped when it comes to sustaining aa mature and mongomous relationship.”
California psychotherapist, Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of “The Commuter Marriage: Keep your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart,” said “Pro sportsis an area where grown men are encouraged not to be emotionally adult.It’s not necessary — emotional maturity should make a better player, not a worse one.But, a sports star is making money for a lot of people, so they (can often) indulge his (or her) baser instincts.”
Still, Della Casa said it’s not just athletes who indulge: “Conservative estimates say 60 percentof married men and 40 percentof married women are unfaithful to their partners at least once in their lives and they are not all rich or famous. You cannot prevent anyone from placing your mental, emotional and physical health at risk if they decide they want to cheat on you but you can sit down and discuss your expectations and boundaries and have a plan for when a partner is tempted and don’t kid yourself, many good, decent people get tempted, they just don’t cheat.”
TIPS FOR THE PROS (AND YOU) TO CONSIDER TO AVOID STRAYING
1. Set Ground Rules.
Know how you will respond before your partner acts on temptation, according to California psychiatrist Dr. Mark Goulston, author of “Get Out of Your Own Way.” “Setupsome ground rules before stuff happens such as, ‘I know that …you will be offered and tempted by other women, etc. You are certainly free to act on those impulses (because I can’t stop you), but the first time you do, I will have you move out…The second time… we will go to counseling and you will go to some kind of 12-step program to focus on this behavior you can’t control.I hope you don’t have a problem with that.’ Then thekey is to do what you say you will do,” he said.
Tessina agreed. “Set boundaries, and let him know if he crosses them, you’ll leave and take his money with you.”
2. Maintain your Relationship.
“Keep your relationship in tact by making certain you stay connected to your partner”, Della Casa said.”Maybe sneak away and call one another or try and infuse your relationship with a bit of excess such as a night out at a club or a naughty night in once in a while so certain things don’t seem like once in a lifetime opportunities,” she said.
3. Get Some Help.
“Talking to a counselor can help you find out why you want to act out”, Della Casa said. “Regardless of what is being offered and by whom, there is never an excuse to betray your partner,” she said. “If you’re so tempted you’re losing sleep, I would highly suggest seeking out a good therapist to work on your issues because it’s not about your partner.”
4. Put Yourself in your Partner’s Shoes.
Dr. Carle, who counsels celebrities in and out of the sports world, said they’re hit with tempation daily: “But there are plenty of temptations in all walks of life. To stray or not depends on four things: your personal self-respect; the respect you have for your mate; the boundaries you set and the way you communicate your expectations.”
Carle, whose recently published e-book, “How to Win when Your Mate Cheats,” explains how people feel when they’re cheated on by their partner, said her best piece of advice to anyone considering an affair is simple: “If you are tempted, put yourself in your mate’s shoes. How does that feel?”