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Athlete and Celebrity Couples: What Draws Them Together?

September 15th, 2008 10:45am EDT favorite Add to My News
Jessica SimpsonPeanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, Punky Brewster and mismatched Converse. Some things just go together, like the perennial pairing of athletes and starlets. Why do the athletically inclined always seem to end up with Hollywood's prettiest young things? There must be something aside from the obvious draw of bulging biceps, movie premiers, and the thrill of evading the paparazzi.

The athlete/starlet combination is hardly a new one. Perhaps the most well known, and most romanticized, incarnation took place when Joe DiMaggio fell in love with Marilyn Monroe. Even though they had divorced, DiMaggio frequently sent flowers to Monroe's grave, right up until his own death. Another couple that occupied the public spotlight for several years was Brooke Shields and Andre Agassi. With matching flowing locks of hair, they sashayed through the eighties straight to the altar. Like so many other famous couples, though, they went straight for divorce not long after. Another slightly older pairing was decathlete Bruce Jenner and actress Linda Thompson. That short lived union gloriously resulted in Brody Jenner, star of the upcoming reality show "Bromance," and frequent player on "The Hills."

While some of these couples had long relationships, at least by Hollywood standards, others existed for what seemed to be just one night. Remember when a high school aged, just drafted Kobe Bryant escorted newly minted R&B star Brandy to his prom? They looked like the perfect young couple, despite rumors that they barely knew each other. Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman also had a famously brief, and rocky, union.

Eva Longoria & Tony ParkerThese days, there must be something in the water (or the Gatorade), as it seems like athlete/starlet couples are popping up on every magazine cover. Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie, and Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush have all garnered attention. For some athletes, dating just one beautiful and famous woman isn't enough. Tony Romo was with Carrie Underwood before Jessica Simpson ever put on a pink Cowboys jersey. Before Lance Armstrong spent the summer with Kate Hudson, he was engaged to Sheryl Crow, and was rumored to have been involved with Ashley Olsen in the interim.

Perhaps the most glamorous current coupling is quarterback Tom Brady and legs-for-days herself, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Although she may not qualify as a starlet, per se, any discussion of athletes and beautiful women would be incomplete without mentioning Bundchen and her connection to Brady. His all American good looks and athletic prowess combined with her Brazilian body, sparkling personality, and ridiculously large paychecks are almost enough to cause the earth to stop for a split second. It's also worth noting that Brady appears to have left another gorgeous woman, his baby mama and actress Bridget Moynahan, to be with Bundchen.

So why do the beauties of Hollywood gravitate to the brawn, time and time again? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that each can consistently wow the other. An actor dating another actor might be able to say, "That's easy, I can cry on cue, too." An athlete dating an athlete might say, "That's great that you won the World Series, honey, kudos. You can put your ring next to my two U.S. Open trophies. It's great you're finally starting to catch up." There is potential for boredom, a blasé attitude about the achievements of the other, or even jealousy.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen




When the members of a couple are involved in different, but similarly high profile occupations, though, there is still room for each to be impressed by the other. There is no personal competition, and each gets to achieve the highest echelons of success, but doesn't have to bypass their significant other in the process. Also, as the line between athlete and celebrity continues to blur (Anna Kournikova, anyone?), athletes are mixing more and more with the Hollywood set, making access between the two groups even easier. While there may be several possible psychobabble explanations, the simplest one might be this: what is good enough for us non-celebrity mere mortals is good enough for athletes and stars. Maybe they actually just like each other.

Sarah Levin
Story by Sarah Levin

Starpulse contributing writer

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