Is advice bang-on?
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Since Plato, the question of whether athletes should be having sex before the big game has been debated. Some are adamant in their opposition, such as Muhammad Ali, or a bit less successfully, like when Fabio Capello allowed his players limited-access to their wives and girlfriends at the 2010 World Cup. Meanwhile, others, like George Best, swear there’s nothing wrong with it: “I certainly never found it had any effect on my performance.” Take it from a man who knew how to have a good time.
Legend has it that sex saps a player’s strength and decreases testosterone levels. Is it true? With an endless list of supporters for either side of the argument, it should appear there’s nowhere else to turn to but our good friend science.
On the claim that sex is a draining activity: first, there are endless “studies” and “facts” about how taxing a roll in the hay is, so a middle-of-the-road stat will be referenced here. According to scientists who focused on married partners’ bedroom goings-on, sex only uses 25 to 50 calories or the equivalent of walking two flights of stairs. Not bad for 30 seconds of work, but not exactly strenuous.
As for the testosterone assertion, that has also been disproved. Emmanuelle A. Jannini of the University of L’Aquila in Italy points out just the opposite, saying that testosterone production is stimulated by sex. Abstinence can actually decrease testosterone levels. Furthering the fact that sex isn’t detrimental, ESPN on Sport Science studied two professional boxers, one male and one female, and found both of their testosterone levels to have been higher after doing the deed with their spouses. Performance either remained the same or saw a slight increase.
Since sex doesn’t appear to inhibit any physical functions, any negatives must be mental. The male orgasm leads to a very relaxed state. In most sports, being completely relaxed isn’t a feeling one wants to have. That being said, it’s highly unlikely this feeling, or remnants of it, lasts well into the next day.
The only thing that studies or chemicals fail to account for is the thought process of athletes. Everyone has their superstitions or lucky charms or special routines that they care about. Does science back any of these up? Of course not, but they definitely affect how a player performs. You stop a guy from playing his pre-game song or touching his lucky rabbit’s foot, and if he thinks it’ll affect his game, it will.
With the facts and the unknown tied one-to-one, it looks like the rubber match gets decided by personal preference.