Whatever the case, there seems to be an inequality between the professional athlete and marital fidelity. Whether it’s the extended time on the road, the high-money lifestyle, or the throngs of women—jersey chasers, if you will—throwing themselves at these guys, marriage just doesn’t seem to work for a lot of pro athletes.
There’s a reason Derek Jeter’s waited until his late 30s and the end of his career to tie the knot.
So, when Deadspin released the unedited parts of ESPN The Magazine’s Player X interview from a few weeks back, it was unsettling and disgusting, but not at all shocking. The Player X interviews are with an anonymous player (this time, an NBA player), centering on a pressing issue. This issue dealt with the problem of pro-athlete infidelity. Apparently, ESPN heavily edits these down. Deadspin got a copy of the original.
Tiger’s 15? No big deal.
I know NBA players who are, right at this moment, working more than 15 girls—married guys and ones with girlfriends. Guys at the highest levels.
I’m telling you, the temptations we players face are crazy. You’re seeing things you never seen before. Experiencing things you’ve never dreamed of. And the caliber of these women? They’re goddamn gorgeous. Not all of them. But the ones who put some work in, put on those dresses, let their asses pop, do up their hair and get their makeup going, they look fine as hell. Our natural instinct isn’t to grab lunch with her. We wanna know how she smells, how she feels, how she tastes.
Tiger, we feel you.
This happens, he says, because it’s hard to manage a marriage under this lifestyle. On top of all those “goddamn gorgeous” women letting “their asses pop,” pro athletes are on the road all the time:
Our marriages are a lot harder to maintain than yours. We’re on the road and in-demand. And when we do come home, we’ve been apart so long, one or both partners have changed. After a while, you don’t even know each other anymore. And when you’re on the road as much as we are, our ladies are prone to wander, too. Please note: Tiger’s story isn’t finished. Like George Foreman—whose book was still being written when, at the age of 200, he made that damn grill—Tiger’s book could take a few turns. Why was he cheating on Elin? Maybe she wasn’t making him happy at home, or maybe she was cheating, too. We don’t know that she wasn’t. Just sayin.
In my mind, Woods fucked up in only one way: he didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement.
He goes on to explain that a prenup lets you cheat without having to worry about your wife leaving, because she’d be giving up all that money you’re making if she left. He estimates that about 85 percent of sports marriages fall apart, and condemns Tony Parker’s rumored relationship with Brent Barry’s wife as “so against the code”—even though he says Longoria was cheating too.
As over the top as some of this sounds, it gets at one important point: it’s really hard to be a good husband and a dedicated pro athlete. But no, that still doesn’t make cheating OK.
He then talks about Dwyane Wade and Steve Nash, two of the most liked guys in the league, who are both going through divorces. And it’s not because they cheated, it’s because, for one reason or another, the marriages didn’t work. Were they not pro athletes, would their marriages have worked out? I can’t say, but it’s hard to say that the pro-athlete life didn’t have some effect on the their relationships.
Now, obviously, it’s not impossible to be a good husband and a professional athlete. It is, understandably, just a lot more difficult. Marriage is hard work. And being a pro athlete makes it even harder.
—Photo AP/Francois Mori