Sex before the big game: it’s a question, a myth that is constantly recurring in the sports world. The question continues to live, as superstitious athletes, coaches and media members refuse to let it die.

In popular culture, the question of sex before the big game arose in the latest edition of the Rocky franchise. In Creed, Sylvester Stallone reprises his role of Philadelphia southpaw Rocky Balboa. But instead of being a boxer, Rocky returns as the reluctant trainer of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). The role earned Stallone a nomination for best supporting actor for an Academy Award, following a victory at the Golden Globes.

As training progresses, Rocky believes Creed is ready for his first fight against rival a Philadelphia boxing prospect. The night before the fight, Rocky tells Creed not to have sex before the fight because “women weaken legs.” The scene acts as a continuation, linking a lesson Rocky learned during his boxing career from his trainer Mickey, in the initial 1976 film.

In reality, it is an idea that is held in high regard for boxers and trainers. Weak legs could mean the difference between winning and losing a fight. Strong legs allow boxers to generate more punching power. But more importantly, strong legs play a role in the defense of a fighter. Strong legs provide a strong base for a boxer, allowing for them to absorb an opposing punch if they are caught. Additionally strong legs lead to better footwork that allows fighters to use footwork to move and avoid being hit.

In other sports, the question has come up through media press conferences. It is a tradition at the annual Grey Cup Head Coaches’ press conference that the question of players having sex the night before the CFL’s championship game is the first question asked. South of the border at Super Bowl media day, players and coaches are routinely asked the same question from all sorts of media members that bombard the host city to cover a sporting event that they normally do not cover. Similar questions have been asked at the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final about players’ sexual tendencies prior to games. The myth exists in soccer and track and field as well, as coaches and athletes believe sex leads to weak legs, fatigue and dehydration.

Scientific studies have been launched to see if there is truth to this myth. Studies have looked at the amount of energy used during sex and the physiological effects on muscles that sex has. Some studies have looked at the effect sex has on feeling physical pain, to anxiety levels, to the level of aggression athletes have when they abstain from sex. Famously, Muhammad Ali abstained from sex weeks before big fights because he believed it made him more aggressive inside the ring.

However, in the end, these studies provide no definitive answer to the myth of sex before the big game. Results differ from person to person. But one thing is for sure, athletes will continue to have sex before games. While some athletes will choose not to. The myth will live on, and the questions and human curiosity will continue.

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