Just as the Olympics and Paralympics always bring a new crop of articles talking about how many condoms are needed to keep the athletes going throughout the games, so the World Cup brings us a bunch of new sex stories too. The most common one, of course, poses that age-old question: should players avoid (or even be banned from) having sex before a match?
The most common sex and World Cup news stories are usually the ones about 'sex bans' or sexual activity from the players. Like this piece in the Bleacher Report which questions whether the Mexican team should have been partying with escorts just a couple of weeks before the World Cup. A little closer to home, although there's not been as much rumourmongering about a 'sex ban' for the England team this year, apparently Gareth Southgate is hoping the players can avoid 'relationship drama' before a big match.
The idea of a 'sex ban' has been floated many times before. The theory goes that if you're trying to prepare for a big athletic competition – whether the World Cup, Olympic swimming, or London marathon – you should refrain from having sex the night before. Sometimes this is extended to 'a week before', just in case you pull a thigh muscle while getting into a tricky position, or just using up all your energy before the big day.
Is there any truth behind this theory, though? Will sex really have that drastic an impact on your athletic performance? Does it have no effect at all? Or could it even be a good idea to get the blood pumping before the players jog out onto the pitch?
Should you avoid sex before a World Cup match?
Luckily for curious folks like you and I, a recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine set out to explore this very question. They took 12 reasonably healthy, sexually active men and taught them a variety of physical exercises. Then, over the course of a number of sessions, they measured how well each man could perform the exercises and analysed the data based on whether those men had had sex in the last 12 hours.
So what did they find?
Nothing. That's right – there was no difference in performance if the participant had shagged the night before. The researchers did point out, though, that their test wasn't perfect:
“However, completion of sexual intercourse was confirmed through self-report rather than direct observation, so it is not certain if participants actually met the requirements of each condition.”
But if we're to assume that participants were telling the truth (and why would they lie?) then it's fairly safe to say that having a bit of fun before a match probably won't ruin England's World Cup hopes. Especially if Harry Kane keeps smashing them in as he did on Monday against Tunisia.
So if you're a professional – or even an amateur – athlete reading this, feel free to get it on before a big sporting event. It probably won't ruin your chances! But if you're worried about potentially pulling a muscle or injuring yourself during sex, stick to masturbation. There are plenty of amazing masturbation sheaths that require no more than your right arm to use, or you could even go for an automated stroker like the Rev1000 – a really cool masturbator that does all of the work for you. All you'd need to do is lube it up, insert yourself, and turn it on: no hands required!
Then, of course, there are all the possible options for vibrators and dildos if you don't happen to have a penis. One of my pet hates about the World Cup is how so much of the coverage seems to assume that only people with balls of their own play football, so it would be remiss of me not to mention the sex toys that work for the rest of us!
And of course, these sex toys aren't just good for helping to relieve the tension and pre-match nerves of the England World Cup team – they're also there for the crisp-munching sofa-loving people like you and I. Nothing helps you celebrate an England victory quite like a lovely wank... and few things are as effective at consoling you after a defeat either. Not that I expect us to lose any matches, of course, because England are going to win it this year – right?
OK, probably not. Best start practicing our stoic faces then...