On the eve of the 1986 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka reportedly told his team, “You can only play this game once. If wives and girlfriends can’t wait, tell them to take a cold shower.”
Ditka’s players must have listened, because the Bears slaughtered the Patriots 46-10 the next day; it’s just too bad that nobody gave Team USA the same speech before this year’s Olympic Games.
Less than a week after the start of the London Olympics, the United States has been nearly even with China in terms of total medal count, but is falling far behind on those gold medals. And this is a serious problem because, let’s face it, first place is the only place.
From the thousands of condoms emblazoned with the Olympic rings that are shipped to the athletes’ dwellings, to women’s soccer leader Hope Solo’s admission that the Games are basically just one big, toned orgy, it’s easy to assume that Team USA’s head is buried in the bosom of a fellow athlete rather than focused on the competition.
Could it be that all of the between-the-sheets action between young athletes in pique physical form is gumming up the motors? Possibly.
It’s a centuries-old myth that athletes perform better if they abstain from sex days — and in some cases months — before a game or match.
Plato wrote in “Laws” that the great Olympian Ikkos of Tarentum, who competed in the pentathlon around 444 B.C., was not to engage in sexual activity with a woman (or a boy, for that matter — you know how the Greeks were back then) and to only eat wild boar.
More recently, boxing legend Muhammad Ali was thought to have abstained from sex up to six weeks before a match. In 2010, World Cup contenders Ghana and Britain were required to hang up their jimmy hats a month before the games. The Ghana Football Association would not even allow its players’ wives or girlfriends visit them privately in their rooms.
“You cannot receive a female guest. It’s absolutely out of the question,” a Ghana spokesperson told the Daily Beast at the time.
The pseudoscience behind the no-sex decree stems from the fact that coaches believe that withholding sex makes male players more aggressive on the field. However, studies have shown that sexual activity actually increases testosterone, which could potentially make an athlete more aggressive.
Other coaches believe that sex the night before a game would make players tired and lacking in energy the next day, while others think that if players are concerned with nighttime activities, it might make them less focused on the field or the court the following day.
There is no real scientific proof one way or the other that abstaining from sex contributes to a win on the field. But can Plato, Ditka and Ali all be wrong?
After all, as Solo tells it, casual sex runs rampant in Olympic Village — those 70,000 or so condoms aren’t just for souvenirs.
“With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it’s sexual, partying or on the field,” Solo said. “I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”
Sure, we’re happy that the athletes are making memories at the Olympics, but checking things off their sexual checklists doesn’t really benefit us back at home. You know what does benefit us back home? Gold medals.
Lock it up, Team USA. We can’t let China take our jobs or our gold medals.