As I watched Mexico and Cameroon take the field in their first match of the World Cup, all I could think is, “Those poor guys with their blue balls.” And I'm not talking about the soccer balls.
Mexico, along with several other teams like Costa Rica and Bosnia-Herzegovina, has banned players from having sex throughout the tournament, though the Bosnians are still allowed to masturbate. Hotel surveillance will prevent Cameroon’s players from bringing women back to their rooms. Spanish and German players just can’t have sex before matches while Brazilian players can have “normal, balanced sex,” as opposed to “acrobatic” sex. (Here's a handy cheat sheet of policies by team, just in case you happen to be in Brazil this week hoping to get lucky!)
In the world of professional sports, the effects of sex on athletic performance has long been debated, but no studies have yielded any real scientific evidence leaning one way or the other. Sex only burns 25-50 calories a session (sorry to burst the bubble of anyone who uses sex as exercise), but many believe that the act reduces testosterone and therefore takes away precious aggression needed on the field. Some say it leads to less sleep or distraction, while others point to the benefits of relaxation and stress release.
The controversial issue hasn’t entered the world of women’s sports and I can’t imagine women allowing coaches (often male) to run their sex lives. But, I can say from my own experience that sex before sports has never had a negative effect on my athletic performance. In fact, the last time I had a little pre-game, I played my best soccer of the season and insisted to my boyfriend that it become a new ritual. He of course agreed, for the sake of my game.
I decided to do my own study, polling some of my most athletic friends. I spoke to 13 people, seven men and six women, about their personal experiences engaging in intercourse before competitive sporting events. Not a single women said sex had ever had an effect on their game, positive or negative, though a few admitted that the emotional complications of a relationship could distract them.
The men were quite split. Two enforce a "no sex on game day" policy, but the night before is perfectly acceptable. Fearing it would tire them out, two others said they’d be inclined to turn down sex before a game, but didn’t seem completely opposed to the idea. The remaining three said sex had no effect at all on their athletic performance, one stating, “If you can't separate the emotional states of sex and sports, you probably shouldn't be doing either.”
My conclusion: It depends on the person (but likely impacts men more than women). I think the bigger issue here is that athletes aren’t being trusted to make their own, very personal decisions in the bedroom. Surely by now, each athlete should know if sex before a game is a good idea for them or not—and if not, a professional athlete is surely smart enough to abstain for the sake of their career.
Maybe the true study is happening right now at the World Cup. We’ll see which teams remain in the final rounds and whether or not the balls are blue.
Jessica May is a freelance writer happily living in sin with her boyfriend and vibrator like "Three's Company."
photo credit: Lanpernas Dospuntozero via Creative Commons