Why Sports Wives Don't Remain Sports Wives For Too Long

In the non-news category, professional athletes divorce far more often than the national average. The real question is why do they bother getting married in the first place?

By one estimate, 60 to 80 percent of NFL marriages end in divorce, and other sports have comparable rates. That's no surprise, considering the factors in play: a culture of infidelity, being away from home all the time, trophy wives and jersey chasers.

It's a tough life to sustain a marriage," said Raoul Felder, a celebrity divorce lawyer who represented the former wives of Mike Tyson and Patrick Ewing. "There's a maximum of temptation and lots of money floating around. It's a bad brew."

But more surprising is that most sports marriages seem to end after the player has retired. In those cases it's tempting to assume that the wives discover that they might have gotten hitched for reasons other than their husband's company. But anecdotally, it's more likely that it's the athletes become something other than the men they thought they married.

Steven Ortiz, an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State, interviewed 47 wives of professional athletes for a study. He found that wives had to adjust to their husbands' spending more time at home, that they missed team functions and community events and that they bore the brunt of the transition.

None of this is to say that there aren't perfectly happy couples in the sports world, or that they don't have the right to jump into doomed relationships just like the rest of us. But someday the game will be gone and the money will dry up, and athletes and their wives need to make sure they're getting the companionship they need and deserve.

Taking Vows In A League Blindsided By Divorce
[NY Times]