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Cure for Leafs? More sex Jan. 12, 2008
Provided by: Sun Media
Written by: DR. GIFFORD JONES
 
Never mind no sack time before games. Research says it does more good than harm

What's wrong with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

They haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967. This year, again, they're floundering and will probably once again miss the playoffs. Their coach has shuffled lines without any effect. Hockey analysts have suggested other solutions to no avail.

But I've got a prescription for coach Paul Maurice. The problem may be a lack of a little "nookie" before games.

"Nothing after Wednesday if you're playing on Saturday" was the gospel preached to British soccer players in the 1970s. Even today many coaches tell their players to avoid sex the night before a game. And some famous sport personalities have agreed to the big "No" to pre-game sex.

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Muhammad Ali remarked, "When you don't get sex for awhile it makes you a great warrior." He claims he didn't have sex for six weeks before a fight. And Rocky Balboa's trainer claimed, "Women weaken the knees."

A recent poll of World Cup players by Britain's Marie Claire magazine proved that some players still steer away from sex prior to games.

This folklore about sex abstinence has been followed for centuries. The 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, relates that the eponymous hero sent a temple harlot to sap the strength of his rival the night before combat.

But is there definitive research to prove that a little hanky-panky makes athletes losers? John Bancroft, former director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind., says, "There is no physiological basis for it."

Ian Shier, a sports expert at McGill University in Montreal, says "a little nookie the night before does not affect strength, endurance, balance, lateral movement, reaction time or aerobic power."

And he claims that when athletes were tested on a treadmill 12 hours after having sex there was no decline in performance. Nor did it affect mental concentration.

But if pre-game sex doesn't sap the strength or concentration of the lowly Leafs could it get them into the playoffs? Or inject enough "tiger in the tank" to win the Stanley Cup?

Currently the Leafs, representing a city of hockey-mad fans, must be one of the most uptight teams in the league. What they desperately need is a sense of tranquility, and there's nothing better than sex to calm the psyche and induce a good night's sleep before a game.

Casey Stengel, the wise sage and former general manager of the New York Yankees, had the right idea about sex. He remarked, "It's not the sex that wrecks these guys, it's staying up all night looking for it."

The despondent Maple Leafs could even take a lesson from an opera singer.

Dr. Donald Cooper, physician to Oklahoma's football team, once said a famous opera singer confided to him that she could only hit high C well after sex.

PHYSIOLOGICAL REASONS

Maybe sex would help the Leafs hit the net more often.

But are there bona fide physiological reasons for supporting pre-game sex?

Emmanuelle Jannini, professor of endocrinology at L'Aquila University in Italy, has the answer.

Jannini has discovered that sex stimulates the production of testosterone, which boosts aggression. He says that adult levels of testosterone, after three months without sex, drop close to those of children. It's not a good prescription for a boxer or for the moribund Leaf player.

Jannini and other researchers dismiss the notion that sex makes athletes weak at the knees. After all, lovemaking is not a demanding exercise, particularly for well-trained athletes. Sexual activity uses up between 25 to 50 calories, about the same amount as walking up two flights of stairs.

Another researcher, Barry Komisaruk, a physiology professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that sex combats muscle pain. It does this by blocking the release of a neuropeptide, called substance P, which transmits muscle pain. And muscle pain is the last thing players need on a long shift on the ice.

So, coach Maurice, you've tried everything to stimulate your players. My advice is to take their partners on the next road trip. You might be surprised to find that a little roll the night before a game is the answer to your prayers and those of suffering fans.

MORE COLUMNS BY DR. GIFFORD JONES

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