When Athletes Get Divorced: Sports Stars' Splits are Pricey

When Professional Athletes Get Divorced, Most People Aren’t Surprised but these splits are expensive

When athletes get divorced, it’s almost as if nobody is surprised unless it’s a question of “how did they stay married that long in the first place?” Apparently, athletes are divorce prone. Most of them don’t stay married to the same woman for very long. And their splits are not cheap. Recall the divorce settlements of Michael Jordan & Juanita Jordan; Lance Armstrong & Kristen Richard; Alex & Cynthia Rodriguez; Gregg Norman and Andrea Andrassy; Tiger Woods & Elin Nordegren; and Dwyane Wade and Siovaughn Funches, to name just a few.
Indeed, professional athletes keep divorce lawyers busy not only in the US but all over the world.

A New York Times article written in the late aughts reported on this issue of when athletes get divorced and discussed some of the reasons their rate of divorce is so high. The article focused on a former NFL football player with the NY Jets turned resident marriage guru James Dearth who has acted as a marriage coach to his teammates. According to the article:

Dearth doesn’t like public speaking, so he came upon his role as the Jets’ resident marriage guru by accident. The catalyst for his involvement came at a conference hosted by Professional Athletes Outreach, when a speaker told the audience that two years after retirement, 78 percent of N.F.L. players are bankrupt, jobless or divorced.

The general consensus is that the divorce rate among professional athletes is staggering, some putting it as high as 85 percent. Why? According to the New York Times article cited above, James Dearth opined that the reasons that football marriages fail include:

rampant infidelity, women who target athletes, trophy wives, lifestyles not conducive to marriage and players being surrounded by entourages, which can discourage intimacy. Like Dearth, Jenkins said he believed that many players entered marriage without fully understanding what that commitment meant.

In addition to the Dearth piece, an article in The Week seems to suggest that professional athletes’ marriages are straight up doomed out of the starting block. Here is what the writer said:

Most of the top-tier athletes I’ve known who failed at marriage suffered either from me-itis, got-rich-too-fast syndrome, or a pronounced case of arrested adolescence. Some of them realized after the fact that they liked being single and moneyed more than they liked being married. A few simply chose horribly when it came to a partner… and some of them got married very young in life and had no idea the stress that a job of constant travel puts on the relationship.

Do you agree with the assertion that pro athletes doomed to divorce?

What about the argument that the reason for the high divorce rate among professional athletes is that as big as they are in size, a lot of them are still little boys in their heads and in their emotional development? That is, professional athletes have a high divorce rate because many of them are like horny teenagers for one thing and they are into the surface, flash, superficial stuff – example, how “hot” the girl looks in a pin up poster and they can’t think beyond their tightened balls. Do you agree with this?

Are they just superficial and immature? Do they put too much emphasis on looks, (i.e. boobs, ass, and hair) and not enough on a true connection with a mate? Is the divorce rate for athletes so high because of the low standard upon which a lot of them base their decision to marry?

But there is job stress too. A lot of sports stars get divorced due to job stress.
Tiger Woods is a textbook case for the professional athlete whose job got too stressful to handle so he resorted to cavorting with all these women, and in the process destroyed his marriage to Elin Nordegren, the Swedish blonde who dumped him soon after his scandalous affairs were unearthed. Actually, if it weren’t sad in terms of how he lost everything since that divorce, Tiger’s story might be a little bit funny.

It is not just Tiger. Whether in the NBA, NFL, Golf, Tennis or other sports, it appears that athletes, professional athletes whose sport is their livelihood, tend to have a very high rate of divorce compared to other professions, and their lives seem to unravel not soon after the divorce.

Possible Reasons Professional Athletes Get Divorced so Often

Many different reasons have been proffered for the high rate of divorce among professional athletes, including but not limited to:

  • The sense of loss the athlete feels at the end of his or her career
  • The high rate of infidelity
  • They are gone a lot (Long periods of absences from the family)
  • Addiction to working out and to the lifestyle
  • Identity crisis after the contracts dry up
  • No prenuptial agreement
  • Multiple children born out of wedlock who need child support
  • the continuation of the lavish lifestyle and no paychecks coming in, which is followed not long after by bankruptcy
  • Hubris of the athlete
  • Trophy wives whose emotional dis-involvement leaves the athlete in emotional tatters.

What can athletes do to reduce the divorce rate? It seems a lot of things. For example, reduce the hubris; don’t marry trophy wives; don’t have multiple children out of wedlock; don’t cheat on their wives; have an identity beyond the ball; get a prenup when getting married; have a budget even when millions are coming in and save for a rainy day.

Actually, this is not rocket science. It’s easy if they really give it half a chance. The real question is why are they so loathe to try? Why do they feel they have so much to prove?

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