A saucy female perspective on sports pop-culture

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For Love and the Game

We all know that it helps to have love and support in the stands when you take to the field. Guys love the girls cheering on the sideline, it’s part of what gets them going, and visa versa. Think of great sports movies, The Natural, Varsity Blues, even the classic Major League where Tom Bergen goes running over to Rene Russo after the Indians win the big game and she’s the first thing he goes looking for. Sports and sex is nothing new. In fact, it sells! Who would Andre Agassi have been without Brook Shields in the stands? What about the stories of Derek Jeter and Mariah Carey? Would Anna be the same if she didn’t have Enrique? Would anyone know who Tony Parker is if it weren’t for his adorable girlfriend, Eva? The right girlfriend or boyfriend can be a marketable quality which can help promote you, or hurt you.

Star athletes and their significant others can be odd pairs. Some choose to stay loyal to the honey who supported their broke ass from street ball to professional play. Other athletes choose to “upgrade” and go by way of the model or actress type. Perhaps the most risky and rarely witnessed coupling are the power athletes who date other superstars in their own field. Agassi might not have made it with Shields, but he seems to have made it just fine with Steffi.

You have to admit it’s adorable to see someone like Shaq married to his petite long-time girlfriend, Shaunie. It’s not like Shaq needed any more publicity with having a trophy wife to go along with his Championship, All-Star, and MVP trophies. On the flip side, one guy who has definitely made a name for himself thanks to some shameless girlfriend-flaunting is Tony Parker by way of Eva Longoria. Thanks to her devotion in the stands of the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker is as household of a name as his Desperate Housewife. Honestly, I think the two are an odd pair, but you love to see them together. They always appear to be so in love and divinely happy to be in each others presence. Of course, this is all speculation, but let’s be honest, Tony wasn’t helping out Eva’s career, and the sparkle in her eye when they see each other truly is genuine and not something one can fabricate with the help of a PR specialist. Secondly, since his relationship with Longoria, he has catapulted not only as a recognizable face in the game, but as a key player himself, breaking records, containing key opponents, and ultimately winning championships. Love can be a powerful drug, and in this case it’s been a positive boost on both the professional and personal front for this b-baller.

Not all relationships can be so harmonious. Perhaps Kanye West put it best with his famous lyric “Now I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ with no broke n*$^#r.” (Since I am a 25 year old white girl, I have no allowance to say that last word.) Case in point: Kris and Anna Benson. Now Kris Benson is a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Anna, his wife, is known for being an obnoxious, large breasted, former stripper that likes to make lude and outlandish public remarks. Her poker name “Gold Digger” should spell it out for you. One of her choice public mutterings was a remark to Howard Stern saying she’d sleep with the entire Mets organization (whom her husband played for at the time) if he ever committed an infidelity. Ironically, shortly there after, Kris Benson was traded to Baltimore in a move many credit to his wife. Some, in the media world, felt that his loud-mouthed wife had over-stepped her welcome as a baseball proponent and was making the team look bad. She, of course, claims it was all for business. Not surprising, the happy couple is now seeking a divorce and poor Anna will have to find some other attention-starved millionaire with whom she can cozy up to and make a name for via bad publicity.

So what does the “perfect girlfriend” really come down to for an athlete? Are these men looking for love as a means to an end, or as a publicity spin machine, or just to fill in the gaps? Are the women who date these men in it for the love, the money, or the game? Maybe it’s a little of both. I have always had a desire to date a football player. I know, I can hear you rolling on the floor laughing. It’s not that I think they are sexy. (OK…I think Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer and Joe Germaine and a few others are pretty hot.) I’m attracted to the sport they play and their talent and that’s what makes them sexy. I don’t think Steve Nash is all that attractive but his TALENT makes him hot. Sure, there is a lifestyle that is appealing and maybe I have a desire to see what goes on behind the curtain of professional sports. Talent and confidence are hot and that’s what sells half of these athletes to the blond B-list models and actresses.

On a final note, if you are going to be one of the girls who assumes the role of “arm candy” to a pro-athlete, you better be willing to pony up when the time comes. Case in point: this past weekend at a NASCAR event, rivals Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle found themselves at the center of a spinout and then found their girlfriends in the heat of an argument. In a “stand by your man” moment, Biffle’s girlfriend was so pissed, she marched up the Busch box and had it out with Kurt’s girlfriend in front of fans and friends. Now, I have to give credit to the ladies for having the guts to manifest the on-track match to a crowd-pleasing side-ring debacle. As they say, all publicity is good publicity and these women not only defended their men, they made front-page news! Way to go girl, you bitch-slap your way to a headline! Would I have even noticed a little NASCAR scuffle if it hadn’t been for the women who make these men look good? I hardly think so. Although, I’m not sure this was really the best way to fight for love and glory, but at least it caught my attention.


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