The XX Factor

Why Do Professional Athletes Cheat With Their Teammates’ Wives?

Slate ‘s Josh Levin wrote a piece about the trope of athletes cheating on their wives with the wives and girlfriends of teammates. It was originally written in 2004, but allegations of professional sports guys cheating in this particular way happen so often, that Slate recycles the piece about once a year. The latest in this long line of allegations is that Spurs’ star Tony Parker cheated on his actress wife Eva Longoria with ex-teammate Brent Barry’s wife, Erin. Getting down with your coworkers’ wife is historically among the most boneheaded moves a cheater can make, jeopardizing a very lucrative job and your personal life in one swoop.

In the piece, Josh makes the case that part of the appeal is that it’s so taboo. When I asked Josh yesterday why he thought these affairs were so common, he also cited proximity as a factor-even though there are lots of away games, these people probably all socialize together, and so there’s opportunity. The one thing I’d want to add to Josh’s points is that these sorts of things potentially happen more often with professional athletes than civilians because sports stars are so deeply competitive. They want to win more than anything else, that’s part of why they reached such great basketball heights. When they want something-even if that something is their teammate’s significant other-they’ll probably be going after it with more determination than an insurance adjustor would in the same situation.

Photograph of Eva Longoria and Tony Parker in happier times by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.