Kate Hudson seems to have elevated Alex Rodriguez's game, raising once again the questions of sex, love, and athletic performance.

 

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 21, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Does Good Sex Make Sports Heroes? (Or is it love?)

Viewers of Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" will recall - where Robert de Niro as boxer Jake La Motta fought a war with himself over screwing his luscious wife Vicki - the issue of having sex before a sports performance is an ancient debate.  Of course, the La Motta's had a mad, destructive relationship.

Here are the two opposing perspectives from sports greats themselves.  Muhammad Ali, believing it sapped an athlete's strength, wouldn't have sex for six weeks before a fight.  The ancient Yankee philosopher, Casey Stengel, on the other hand, quotith: "I'm less worried about a player having sex the night before a game than him being out all night looking for it."

Exercise physiologists and other researchers now pooh-pah that sex before a sporting event diminishes performance - as long as the athlete gets a good night's sleep.  Once again, the gnarled old sage Casey is proved right.

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees - who currently lead their best-of-seven league championship series with the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 - further proves this point.  In the best-of-five series just prior, the Yankees' swept Minnesota 3-0.  Featured regularly in the stands was Kate Hudson - yes the darling daughter of Goldie Hawn.  She was there for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is no minor sports star - he is arguably the best baseball player of his generation.  He is an outstanding fielder, base runner, and hitter - at age 34, Rodriguez is currently eighth on the all-time career home run list.

But Rodriguez has regularly disappointed the high expectations of Yankees management and fans in post-season, championship-determining play.  Rodriguez himself admits, “I will say that in other postseasons I failed, and sometimes failed miserably.”  The Yankees obtained Rodriguez after the 2003 season, when he was the American League's most valuable player.  The Yanks lost the World Series that year to the Florida Marlins.  They haven't gotten to the Series since.

This year is different.  Rodriguez has now tied a record set by Lou Gehrig almost eighty years ago by knocking in runs in eight straight post-season games.  In this year's post-season, he is batting .407 with five homers, 11 runs batted in, and 9 runs scored.

What's more - he is likable again.  For years, Rodriguez had been viewed as high maintenance, spoiled, and possibly a faker - yes, there was that unadmitted steroid use.  Having his picture on the front page of the tabloids with other women while he was married didn't help his reputation.

And, oh, last year there was the Madonna fling.

But now, Rodriguez seems at peace. Pitchers beware! So maybe it's not sex after all - but love that makes for the contented, successful athlete.  Do a prominent star descended from Hollywood royalty and a great athlete raised in New York's Washington Heights barrio seem an unlikely couple? 

Here is what is on Kate's mind, according to a friend: “She just turned 30 and she’s ready to have her second child. She wants Ryder to have a sibling, so she brought up the idea to Alex and told him that they would make a beautiful baby together, and that she would assume all financial responsibility.”

Hmmmm.  Can love conquer all? We'll have to see about this one.