Are Sport Stars Performance Affected by Infidelity?
The back and front pages are full of it, the sport's channels are providing up-to-date live coverage and it's the top topic discussed by the water cooler in offices the world over, when a revelation about a famous sports star's private life comes to light - it is a topic of global interest.
And for the sports star concerned, short of locking themselves away for a month or two, the interest in unavoidable. But does all the added media and public interest affect these world class sports stars when they take to the field to ply the trade at which they are experts? Or are modern day sports stars to disciplined, tuned and robotic to clear there mind and do their professional job?
On the 29th January 2010 a story broke reporting John Terry had being having an affair with the girlfriend of his ex-team mate and friend, Wayne Bridge. One of the biggest stories in Premiership Football for some time, it would be interesting to see whether Terry's performance was affected.
We can take a scientific approach and gauge whether his performance was affected by these off-the-pitch distractions by drilling down into the stats used to measure.
The graph below shows the spike in Google searches for John Terry around the time of the story being reported, needless to say, this story was huge!
This chart examines the 10 game period around the time of the revelations being revealed on the 29th January.
Bar the actual score, this is the stat that all defenders want to see as low to 0 as possible. If no goals are scored against them, they've done their job. John Terry led his team with respectable numbers directly after the story broke and the public pressure on him mounted.
However, a few games later, this began to rise - culminating in 4 goals being put past his defence again Manchester City on the 27th February. Interestingly, this game brought him face to face with Wayne Bridge, whose girlfriend he was reported as having an affair with.
This is bread and butter for defenders. Modern football has definitely meant less actual tackles occur - as the speed of the game increases, more controlled, assured defending has now taken over. However, football fans know John Terry is an old fashioned centre back, never one to shy away from a tackle or two.
It is interesting to see that his tackles per game instantly takes a drop and continue to trends downwards as the games after the scandal pan out. Was his mind elsewhere? Perhaps his energy levels were affected by the media attention he was experiencing? From the tackling statistic is certainly appears John Terry was somewhat letting the game pass him by.
Not just us: The Guardian published an article in which John Terry defended his form as he was criticised by football pundits and fans alike.
A secondary job for modern defenders involves building attacks for the team. Gone are the days where a defender simply 'hoofed' the ball forwards after completing their defensive duties. The modern defender is cool, calm and collected when in possession of the ball looking to bring their midfielders into play with short, precise passing.
Therefore the 'pass completion' statistic gives us fantastic insight into just how focused and in-control a defenders is. John Terry's pass completion over time before and after the scandal trends downwards, with occasional spikes, expectedly, when his team win.
Was Terry's mind focused on off-the-pitch matters? Was the pressure mounting affecting his confidence when in possession?
So whilst the stats for John Terry do not alter dramatically, it is clear to see when drilling down into the detail, that Terry's performance was affected, albeit slightly, with all the furore around his personal life.
However, it's not just John Terry who has had his private life thrust into the public eye, stars from various sports and various continents have become tabloid favorites for their private antics.
Mike Kekich & Fritz Peterson
Baseball fans were in for a suprise at the start of the 1973 Major League season when two New York Yankee pitchers decided to take their team-building exercises one step further by trading wives and kids. Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson decided to swap wives as they realised they were in love with each others.
It was taken one step further however when kids and pets were brought into the equation. The arrangement shocked the baseball world and the pitchers, in separate talks, said they had decided to reveal the arrangement because too many knew about it. They thought it was time to clear the air and, the Peterson confided, they hoped that "you won't make anything sordid out of this."
However, despite all the furore, the show had to go on and as our research below shows, the players handled the situation differently. As Kekich experienced a metoric rise in win to loss percentage, whilst Peterson clearly had some trouble adapting to his new life and added media exposure as his win to loss percentage dropped significantly.
Basketball star Kobe Bryant experienced an indifferent 2003-04 after serious allegations of sexual assault were were reported by the news media in the close of the 2002-2003 season. A 19 year old employee of a hotel Bryant was staying at, reported she was raped by the Basketball star.
With seemingly endless public pressure and interest in the young star his performance suffered.
If those stories aren't quite enough then we've compiled some further reading including:
- - The Infamous Minnesota Vikings boat orgy in 2005
- - The Israeli football team who lost a Euro 2000 playoff heavily after spending the evening prior to the fixture with several prostitutes
- - And, did you know? Legendary Babe Ruth wasn't just scoring on the pitch. He sat out most of the 1925 season due to complication from a venereal disease
Am I Right?
It seems pretty obvious that the athlete’s performance can be affected by trouble from outside the pitch. But how can you explain the good performance up until the shit hits the fan? Tiger Woods is a pretty clear example. He was playing some of the best golf while cheating on his wife. And now – not so much. Why is that? Looking forward to hear your theory!
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I think your right Andrew, doing wrong sometimes doesn't hurt as much as the consequences and that's when the pressure comes.. With regards to the John Terry bit, his form and confidence would have been through the roof whilst he was servicing the bridge. However when it is on the front page of every newspaper and shit hits the fan, now it doesnt matter how good you are on the field the world knows your not a geezer but instead a abit of a SAP, as sometimes men do them things but to do that to a mate... Now that is some pressure to play under at the highest level under.. Enjoyed reading that, Cheers..