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NBA players are predicted to break their bubble in search of sex.
The prospect has been raised as the 22 teams are housed at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with the league desperate to restart basketball’s showpiece amid the coronavirus pandemic that continues to escalate in the United States.
Respected ESPN host and analyst Stephen A Smith believes it’s only a matter of time.
“Do we really think the recreational activities, what these guys are accustomed to, are going to be compromised for three months?” Smith asked on ESPN’s First Take show.
“You really think that people are going to be without their wives or their woman? … You really think they’re honouring a bubble for three months?”
Smith, who received a basketball scholarship to Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina before entering journalism, said that even a four-week period without access to “recreational activities” would be difficult for players to manage.
Safety regulations say that player guests will not be allowed to enter the NBA bubble until after the first round of the playoffs towards the end of August. At that stage, each of the eight remaining teams will be allowed to reserve up to 17 hotel rooms – one per player on the team – for player guests at the Disney campus.
There have already been bubble breakouts as players seek better food from nearby outlets.
The NBA’s biggest star, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, suggested that heading to Florida was like going to prison.
Smith’s claims that players would look for sex got the backing of an expert.
Dr Mike Young, director of performance at Athletic Lab, studied the stress-reducing effects of sex on athletes in 2016.
Young told The Guardian that a lack of physical contact would be “one of the biggest stress tests” for sequestered leagues with lengthy schedules like the NBA.
“A week, two weeks, probably not that big a deal – but we’re looking at six-plus weeks. I think that’s going to be one of the first places that the bubble will break, to be honest,” he said.
Young’s study found a benefit in physical contact.
“As long as you don’t have qualms about sex and performance – usually related to some kind of religious conviction – it’s actually likely good for you. At the very least, neutral for you,” he said.
“Probably the best summary of it is that if you feel like you need it, you probably do, in some fashion.
“Any physical touch reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. A lack of physical touch increases it. It’s not just a perception of need or hurting your well-being, there’s actually a physiological response. Human beings need to have physical touch. People who have sex regularly – or even a 20-second hug – have reduced cortisol levels.”