There is a new theory in psychology that contends marriage impacts the male competitive spirit and even suggests that it’s these background issues in the personal lives of elite players that could ultimately dictate the outcome of sporting contests like the Australian Open Tennis Final.
A study entitled, “Marriage affects competitive performance in male tennis players,” by psychologists Daniel Farrelly and Daniel Nettle, found that professional male tennis players perform significantly worse in the year after their marriage, compared to the year before, whereas there is no such effect for unmarried players of the same age.
Farrelly and Nettle investigated male tennis players who appeared in the top 100 players in the ATP singles rankings at the end of each year from 1995 to 2005.
The Impact of Marriage
Their investigation found married players suffered a significant decrease in ranking points between the year before getting married, and the year after, whereas there was no such difference in performance for unmarried players, during the corresponding time period.
Married players also suffered a significant decrease in winning percentages between the corresponding years, whereas there was no such difference in performance for unmarried players.
But married players may not be suffering decreased competitive drive, but merely less ability to commit to tournaments around the world. The authors of this study, based at the University of Worcester and the University of Newcastle, argue that their results indicate this scenario does not seem to be the case.
Success in actually winning matches significantly decreased following marriage.
Psychologists argue that men compete in sports, and other activities (practically anything in fact), to become ‘top dog’ as this image then makes them more attractive to the opposite sex.
The need to beat others is therefore an evolved motivation in male psychology. It could be said to be genetically wired into the male brain.
In ancient times, moving up the hierarchy of the tribe was a sexual strategy for men. Being seen as superior in physical and mental prowess gains greater opportunities to mate with more desirable women, through increased status, according to this theory.
Competing successfully in adversarial encounters with other men, in our ancestral environments, led to maximizing male reproductive success – passing on more genes to future generations.
Raj, D. (2016). How Wives Contest the Australian Open Men’s Tennis Final. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/how-wives-contest-the-australian-open-mens-tennis-final/