5 Underreported Dumb Annoyances Pro Athletes Put Up With
To many, the life of a star athlete sure looks like an endless parade of glamorous parties, gold medals, and sick ab selfies. Yeah, it also requires a lot of hard work, but it's the kind of work that turns you into Greek demigod at the peak of physical fitness. But the reality of being a pro athlete isn't as glamorous as it may appear. Like a bunch of moody teens, their lives involve dealing with lots of awkward body issues and invasions of privacy. For example ...
They Suffer From Terrible Mouth Hygiene
With their bulging muscles, lean torsos, and buns of steel, most people assume athletes are the pinnacle of human health. But there is one area where we couch potatoes generally do much better than the average pro: mouth stuff.
As it turns out, having to go shopping for dentures at 35 isn't exclusive to hockey players and heavyweight boxers. Studies have shown that professional athletes in a wide variety of sports have far more incidents of gum disease, erosion, and gingivitis than non-athletes. But while it makes sense that participating in a contact sport would loosen your teeth quicker than an all-M&M diet, taking blows to the face isn't the big issue. Instead, like waking up on the floor of a frat house, it's all about gasping for air, vomiting, and chugging Gatorade.
Between the high-carb foods and drinks athletes devour, plenty of pre-game nervous vomiting, and their constant gasping while exercising (which results in a dry mouth), athletes are left with tooth and gum issues far worse than most people, despite reporting that they brush frequently. Combine that with plenty of sports not paying well enough for good dental healthcare, and the average mouth is as icky as rooting for the Redskins.
They Have To Be Really Sneaky About Peeing
Pushing your body to the limit can be sweaty work. This leads to thirst, which in turn leads to athletes constantly pumping sports drinks into their mouths like they're about to die of an electrolyte deficiency. But have you ever watched a sports game where the ref called for a pee break? Nope. So unless they have as many pelvic days as arm days, most athletes have to find ways to answer the call of nature with tens of thousands of people staring at them.
Some sports make this easier than others. Swimming, of course, is the easiest of all. Like your gross nephew, pro swimmers pee in the pool all the time. Human dolphin Michael Phelps has admitted to it, and so has Ryan Lochte, who said, "When we're in the water for two hours, we don't really get out to pee. Chlorine kills it so it's not bad."
There's a similar deal with golfers, who have plenty of bushes and other greenery to nip behind to water the fairway. Golf legend Ernie Els recalled that he "had an emergency one year at the Heineken Classic, and they have those [sponsor] signs around the tees, so I just walked behind those signs and went. Just had my hands on my hips, and there I went."
But athletes in other sports need to get a lot more inventive to discreetly drain. Between the 20 pounds of strapped-on gear and the high-speed camera lenses, NFL players can't whip it out and answer nature's call. So these jocks have to come up with inventive ways to go, including peeing in a Gatorade cup, having a buddy hold up a towel as you pee in a Gatorade cup, and if you can't find a Gatorade cup, simply peeing your pants and hoping it dissuades tackles.
But the true masters of the sneaky pee have to be long-distance runners, all of whom have a strategy for going with the flow. Women who want to avoid the tactical squat often wear a small diaper or extra-thick menstrual pad to catch the runoff. Meanwhile, male veterans all learn to check their six, gauge the wind direction, and then snipe a pee off the track at full speed like the worst drive-by.
They Can't Find Pants That Fit
For us, the biggest challenge in buying pants is not winding up in the toys section of Kohl's. Hockey players have a much bigger problem. Literally, in that there isn't a pant in the world that can fit their G.I.-Joe-like physiques.
Playing a sport that requires constant crouching and skating, every day is leg day for hockey players. In fact, while having strong quads and glutes is a big bonus in almost every sport, it's such an important physical feature in hockey that scouts often look at prospective recruit's tushies to determine how well they'd fare in the big leagues. This has led to a condition called "hockey butt," wherein players maximize their gluteus to the point where they're several sizes larger than any sane booty outside of a rap song.
And that's a serious problem if you want your jeans to go all the way up. Many a hockey player has a hard time finding pants that fit every part of their lower body. Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese has admitted that he often buys jeans with too big a waist, because if he buys a normal size 34, he simply can't get them over his bulging buttocks. New York Islanders winger Anders Lee has spoken about how he can spend entire days out shopping for pants, and is lucky if he can find one pair that doesn't rip Hulk-style around his thunder thighs.
So what are these big-bootied boys to do? Like a brotherhood of the traveling pants, similarly buttocked players keep in touch to share advice and discoveries while in search of the perfect fit. Others turn to tailors who specialize in star athlete's freaky bodies, getting all their pants fitted to their disproportions. But savvy brands are getting in on the action, launching clothing for these bottom-heavy big spenders. It's quite a hassle, but that's the price you pay for thiccness.
Their Drug Testers Need To Know Where They Are At All Times
Because many sports have strict drug testing policies, anti-doping agencies can insist athletes can be tested at any given time without warning. And for that to work, they need to know where those athletes are every moment of every day. That means that every time an athlete is more than a few hours away from their house, they need to inform the relevant authorities well in advance -- you know, like ex-cons on probation. In the UFC's case, "in advance" means logging the hours with the United States Anti-Doping Agency app at least three months prior, which is a lot of meticulous life planning to ask from people who get kneed in the head for a living.
The worst part is that even if you prove you weren't trying to dodge a drug test, they won't care. In 2017, UFC fighter Nick Diaz was suspended for getting three whereabouts failures in one year, despite the head of the USADA openly acknowledging that he was not trying to avoid the tests. Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Brianna Rollins was suspended for a year at the height of her career because she didn't inform the agency she was sneaking off to ... a parade in her honor and a visit to the White House.
NFL teams take their scouting very seriously. Overly so, one might say. In some cases the teams will hire private detectives (sometimes retired federal agents) to go to potential draftees' hometowns and grill the locals to figure out who their prospects truly are. More often, the teams will subject all of their rookies to intense series of questions, which in some cases overstep the boundaries of privacy and decency. Highlights include questions like:
- Do you find your mother attractive?
- Do you like men?
- When did you lose your virginity?
- Would you share your internet history with us?
- Boxers or briefs?
Other questions seem more appropriate for trying to hire a zen master assassin than a third-string wide receiver. To whit:
- If you could kill someone and get away with it, would you?
- You're on a mountain in Alaska on a bus going 100 mph. Where are you sitting on the bus?
- Would you rather be a cat or dog?
- How many ways could you use a brick in one minute?
Rightfully so, there are times when teams get into trouble for asking questions that are straight up offensive. Like when a former Miami Dolphins GM asked future NFL star Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute, for which he later had to apologize. Though it clearly would've been fine if he had phrased the question like "If your mother was a prostitute, how much do you think she'd charge?"
Mike Bedard is on Twitter if you want to keep reading what he writes.
RG Jordan is not big on social media, but he is big on working and eating food, so you can contact him at RGJordan4@gmail.com if you think his words are funny or insightful.
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