John Terry has been sacked as England Captain, and the sporting world is disgusted by his actions. But between the charismatic Chelsea defender and Tiger Woods, who has recently lost both his sponsorships and his credibility as a role model through his own unfaithfulness, one must wonder if this kind of behaviour is indeed inevitable in sport.
The problem might be that these athletes are seldom espoused to other members of the sporting world. Their partners may indeed find it difficult to understand the pressure under which their spouses are put in everyday life. The solution may be, then, to date someone involved in your sport.
Even in Durham, many athletes find it difficult to date someone outside of their own sport, often finding it very difficult to balance intense training commitments with a time-consuming relationship.
American record-holding swimmer Annie Chandler met her boyfriend, three time Olympic medallist Matt Grevers, when he came to train for the 2008 Olympic Trials at her university. Chandler agrees that being with a fellow athlete not only provides common ground, but is sometimes essential to communication.
“To date someone that understands the significance of your training and goals means a lot. I would be frustrated trying to explain my aches and pains to a non-swimmer”, said Chandler.
It makes more sense to Chandler to date someone who is a part of the same sporting community: “our team is so close-knit that it’s hard to even meet people outside of our narrow world”.
Encouragement is an integral part of sport, and dating another professional athlete makes it easier to be supportive.
“We were born competitive and we do a fair share of encouraging. Matt is very supportive and enthusiastic with his encouragement”, said Chandler.
When couples train together, operate in the same social group and see each other romantically outside of the sporting sphere, it seems as though it would be easy to see far too much of each other. But Chandler disagrees with this, implying that training is separate from personal lives.
“Once we step on the pool deck we are more individuals than a team”, she explained.
The solution, then, is to concentrate on the individual sessions when training, and to see each other outside of the pool for personal time.
There is an alternative to dating another athlete, and though this may be the cause of infidelity in sports stars, some prefer it to dating someone within their sphere. It may provide a different perspective, a break from the lifestyle of a high performance athlete.
“I know swimmers and non-swimmers have dated. And in some cases, for couples like that, their significant others give them a break from their everyday routine”.
To Chandler, though, this is not preferable. “In my case, I am grateful Matt is a professional swimmer and can talk nerdy swim talk with me whenever I please!”
This may indeed be the solution to the problem of unfaithfulness in sport. Not only is it easier to understand another sportsman’s commitments, but there is also a deeper level of understanding among fellow athletes.
Even at events which Chandler is not able to attend, she has faith that Grevers will remain faithful despite the temptation of stardom.
“He may tell me about attention he gets”, Chandler admits, “but he always worms his way out of any uncomfortable situations”.
So, due to their common interest, Chandler and Grevers share training sessions and lifestyle, and this has enabled them to become even closer as a couple.
Perhaps dating another athlete is the ideal way to ensure that the connection between partners is close enough for neither to be tempted by unfaithfulness, despite the depths to which other professionals stoop.
Chandler agrees: “I know how important loyalty is to him and so I trust him fully”.