Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is it like to date a professional athlete? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I have dated a few professional athletes, and no, I am not a gold digger nor am I a cheerleader. I’m an educated woman with her own career who happens to love competitive sports perhaps more than most women. I am 5-foot-3, just over a hundred pounds, but on the inside, I am a 6-foot-4, 230 pound linebacker.
I’ve always wanted to be a professional football player, but my genetics fail me. I was raised in a football family, my uncle played professionally; my cousin does even now. My earliest memories involve tailgating and my grandma attempting to paint the Dallas Cowboys logo on my face – 7 beers deep (she’s a champ, so it was legible)!
I decided my path early on: sports broadcasting. As I pursued that, I was thrown even more into the world of sports, starting from college sports and eventually to the pros. It’s what I knew, it’s what I loved, and it’s what I was around. Naturally you date someone with similar interests and as a result a few of them played professional sports. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated a doctor, news anchor, even a bartender. But to better understand the experience of dating someone in the professional world of sports, here are the perks and pitfalls.
If you don’t like sports, then it’s going to seem like one big pitfall! But then again, if you don’t like sports, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
We grew up ten minutes apart from each other but met during my junior year of college. We were both the same age but he decided to leave college early and entered in the NFL draft. He was a gifted athlete and his transition into the NFL was a lot easier than for most other guys. He never had to worry about getting cut or losing his spot to someone else. He was a franchise player; his future was guaranteed. It was a combination of genetics, hard work and luck that he never had to worry about a backup plan, which is quite the opposite for 90 percent of guys trying to make it in the NFL.
Stable or not, watching my best friend play each Sunday on the field was exhilarating. I enjoyed being proud of him whether his team won or lost. That was the closest I was going to get to playing in the NFL and I loved every minute of it! It was much more than just living with my boyfriend who played on the team; there was a camaraderie among fans and I was right there in the middle of it.
Yes, there were the upsides of never really having to worry about finances, living in a beautiful home and driving nice cars, but for me, those all became downsides. So many girls I knew were absolutely happy with settling down in a nice house with their professional athlete partner but that was just it — Professional Athlete partner. Most of those guys find their identity in just being a professional athlete.
I wanted more than that for myself. At 24, I knew I was not ready to be taken care of. I wanted to struggle on my own, I wanted to have to eat frozen dinners, because they were cheap… and more importantly, I wanted to pursue a career that I could be proud of. It’s almost impossible to make that work when you live in a few different cities throughout the year following your partner around for his job.
Compromise is hard, and there’s always one person that may have to give up a little more than the other. I just wasn’t willing to compromise anymore, I wanted to put my aspirations and goals first and unfortunately that meant never returning back to Minnesota.
There are ups and downs to dating an athlete. The fun, fame and status…that’s all true but the uncertainty, doubt, and cheating are also very true as well. These guys are held to a different standard by the public. In turn, many act out on that. Thankfully, I did not have to experience any of those negative stereotypes.
It can be the one that finds his identity in his old glory days or the one that embraces life in the present, passionate about making a positive impact on the people and society around him.