he epic unraveling of Tiger Woods is "notable for the levels of its depravity, creativity and mystery," says Mark Kreidler in ESPN. But the fact that a professional athlete failed at marriage should surprise no one — in their world, "the shocker is when things go right." Divorce rates among the athletic elite hover "somewhere between 60 percent and 80 percent" thanks to a vicious mix of money, youth, and the temptations of life on the road. Woods' case is so extreme, "we almost have to exclude [him] from the conversation," but just remember, writes Kreidler, "the next time you read about a superstar who's still married to his first spouse, it won't be against the rules to be impressed." An excerpt:
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.
But stress it is. You don't have to be a jock-worshipper to recognize the basic truth there. It's a weird life — odd hours, hotel night after hotel night, postgame adrenaline that needs to be burned off somehow. Baseball and basketball players, for example, are flooding out of locker rooms and clubhouses at 11 at night, still pumped from the game they've just played.
"What am I supposed to do, go back to the room?" one of them asked me a few years ago. It was an entirely rhetorical question.
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