Infidelity is decreasing, but in sports infidelity skyrockets

Marriages are safe.  Infidelity has not increased in 20 years say scientific researchers who track national trends. The sports infidelity equation, however, makes us shudder in thinking about marriage to athletes.

With regard to infidelity, on Friday I again asked Dr. Tom Smith, Director of the Society and Culture section of the General Social Survey (GSS), about infidelity rates.  He responded: “There is no indication of changes in infidelity from 1988 to 2008.”

The GSS is the largest survey funded by the National Science Foundation and 2008 represents the most recent data.  But from an analysis of GSS data at the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia a slight decreasein infidelity was reported as of September 2010.

Sex capers in sports

Nonetheless, the sex capers of sports figures are still making headlines. As ESPN reported in The sports infidelity equation: “With technology, stories about [Tony] Parker’s divorce, Brett Favre‘s alleged racy text messages and Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s sex-extortion case are just a click, tweet and moment away.”

Somehow we have come to expect a marriage-infidelity-divorce go round in Tinsel Town and the sports world. But with athletes the stakes are higher and perhaps riskier.

Read what Ronald Monestime has to say here in the Bleacher Report: “Are Tony Parker & Eva Longoria the Reason NY Yankees’ Derek Jeter Isn’t Married?”

No epidemic, just Internet infidelity hype

Infidelity headlines from the sports world and Tinsel Town —  reinforced by Internet infidelity hype —  set people to thinking that infidelity is reaching epidemic proportions.  That may be partially true in the sports world, but in the general population, NO.

There is no epidemic when only 20 percent of men and 14 percent of women are unfaithful over the course of a lifetime.  (Fewer than 5 % cheat on an annual basis.)

So what is happening in the sports world?

In the sports world athletes seem to have too much access to money and women. And for Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, and now Tony Parker those sexy texts have been all too incriminating.

The ESPN story said, “None of this surprises Steven Ortiz, an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State who has spent nearly 20 years studying the wives of professional athletes and what he calls “husband-oriented” sports marriages. In one study, Ortiz interviewed 47 wives married to men in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

“He chalks up the pattern of behavior to a patriarchal society and what he calls “spoiled-athlete syndrome.” Since childhood, he says, athletes are enabled because of their obvious talent. And in the same way the culture of celebrity is celebrated, athletic heroes are worshipped.”The sports infidelity equation

Good news for marriage with new divorce- infidelity statistics

Despite what is happening in the sports world and in Hollywood, in this bad economy there is good news. This was the report from the Wall Street Journal in September that noted divorce is decreasing as well as infidelity.

“Further, infidelity has fallen modestly, especially among married men, Prof. [Bradford] Wilcox says. Infidelity overall hasn’t increased over the last 20 years, according to his research.

“Among adults who were ever married in the 2000s, 21% of men and 14% of women reported that they had ever had sex with someone other than their spouse while they were married, according to the Project’s analysis of General Social Survey data.

“In the 1990s, 22% of ever-married men and 14% of ever-married women said they’d had an affair.” Amid Downturn, Divorce and Infidelity Decrease – Real Time

The statistics that Drs. Smith and Wilcox refer to are compiled by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), at the University of Chicago for the GSS.  They have been asking questions about infidelity in nine selected regions around the country for over 15 years.

But we all know someone whose husband is unfaithful!

Just about everyone knows someone getting a divorce because of infidelity.  And how can national authorities come up with fewer than 20 percent unfaithful when Internet stories are claiming 70 -80 percent infidelity?

By: Rita Watson


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