If life were really perfect, Yale would cease to exist, steroid users would have their foreheads imprinted with shiny asterisks, and I would be able to take my lovely girlfriend—without social ridicule—to a romantic Cubs game instead of a showing of He's Just Not That Into You for Valentine’s Day (actually having a girlfriend would be nice as well).
Unfortunately, life hasn’t given most of us fresh lemons; so when we try to immerse the very best of gooey, mushy, and syrupy (yum?) romance into the world of sports, we’re often met with not only a disapproving response, but also a warning-filled picture of Dennis Rodman marrying himself in a wedding dress.
Lesson learned? Not quite.
Truth be told, genuine romance flourishes in sports just as naturally as girls lose their inhibitions at the sight of John Mayer. With so much attention devoted to robotically analyzing mock drafts and contract negations, we tend to forget the simple fact that famous athletes, too, are capable of falling in love.
When they do, more often than not, it’s a pleasant sight, and one certainly welcome amidst all the sports cynicism surrounding A-Rod, a drunken Sir Charles, and "incompetent" Super Bowl referees.
So with the upcoming Valentine’s Day in mind, here’s a look at some of the most beautiful, entertaining, and genuine sports relationships still in existence today.
"I'm Hot, You're Hot, Let's Make Some Hot Babies"
David Beckham and Posh Spice
Since 1997, this power duo has been a guilty pleasure for girls and guys alike. Whether it’s because of Beckham’s exotic tattoos (read: the godly body they’re located on) or the former Spice Girl’s sultry legs, we consistently find ourselves irrationally enthralled by the couple.
Yet, despite the intense media attention, their marriage has lasted for nearly 10 years and continues to remain strong.
In fact, the hopelessly romantic Beckham surprised his wife with a second wedding just last year. They ended up both crying, and Posh later claimed that it was the second best day of her life—after the first wedding. I don’t know about you, but true love in my book doesn’t get much better than David Beckham actually believing he has to impress his wife.
Tony Parker and Eva Longoria
If you’re tall, dark, and handsome, it’s likely that you’ll have a shot at an attractive spouse. But if you’re also gifted with a charming French accent and ridiculously good basketball skills, you might as well get used to sleeping in the same bed as No. 1 of Maxim’s 2006 Hottest Female Stars List.
Such is reality for the nimble Spurs point guard, Tony Parker, and his sultry wife, Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria.
Luckily, they don’t let their combined beauty detract from their loving marriage. Parker says Longoria is the "best thing in [his] life," while Longoria claims that Tony has been "nothing short of the perfect husband."
Take from that what you may, but if you want to be immature and have some fun, make sure to put the phrase "in bed" at the end of the couple’s endearing proclamations of love. After all, what’s unsaid can often be true.
Tom Brady and Every Sexy Model in the World
"That's Cool! You Play Sports, Too?"
Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm
Remember Nomar and his idiosyncratic routine where he taps his feet like a dancer before every swing? Well, it was apparently attractive enough to impress soccer darling Mia Hamm.
Married since 2003, the couple remains very much a united team; in talking about their twin daughters, Mia reveals, "They sleep in different rooms right now, so I have the monitor for one and [Nomar] has the one for the other. When my monitor goes off, I go. When his goes off, he goes."
Now, if Nomar could only apply that sense of successful teamwork to his baseball skills...
Yao Ming and Ye Li
I never understood those girls around 5'2" who fantasized about one day marrying the 7'6" Yao. One, he’s not exactly your stereotypical handsome prince, and two, any PDA would most likely involve a short arm wrapped around Yao’s thigh. Fortunately for Yao and the rest of us, he’s now happily married to Ye Li, a 6'3" Chinese basketball player.
Their love story is definitely beyond cute. Hampered with practices and competitions, the two rarely got to see another.
To make up for it, Yao often snuck Ye out to midnight movies, while simultaneously finding every opportunity to give Ye cartloads (literally) full of stuffed toys. Who knew that the "Great Wall of China" was such a softy? Maybe Shaq secretly watches Hallmark movies too.
Matt Treanor and Misty May-Treanor
I can tell you three things about this lovely marriage.
1) Matt and Misty have been successfully working around Matt’s baseball schedule and Misty’s beach volleyball schedule since 2004.
2) Misty and Matt each have the expression "M^2" tattooed on their arms to express the loving connection they share with one another.
3) Matt can’t possibly be a George W. Bush fan, especially after Bush’s hand became friends with Misty’s buns of steel during the Olympic Games.
Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant
There’s no denying that Kobe has treated us to some of the most brilliant basketball performances in recent history. Yet, he never gets enough credit for teaching married men an important fact: The current going price for sleeping with a complete stranger is a $4 million diamond ring.
Kobe, thank you tremendously for your continued wisdom. You are so far beyond your years.
Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson
What’s the lesson learned here? Kind-hearted guys like Romo who give homeless people movie tickets and fix tires for old people stuck on the side of the road are still susceptible to falling for dim-witted blonde bombshells.
Hopefully, Romo will change Simpson for the better and eventually persuade her to stop doing things she’s terrible at—like singing.
Anna Kournikova and Enrique Iglesias
Oh wait, I forgot, this is an article about relationships involving athletes. My mistake. Just watch Iglesias’s music video, Escape, to get an idea of their relationship.
"Good People Still Make Good Marriages"
Kurt and Brenda Warner
As if Kurt Warner didn’t do enough things right in life, he’s also quite the compassionate husband.
In an interview with Gordon Robertson, Brenda Warner offers the following thoughts about her loving husband—thoughts that I think effectively reflect the couple’s genuine love for one another:
"The first night we met, after we danced that night, I told him, 'I just want you to know I am a divorced mother of two, so if I never hear from you again, I will understand.' That's the way it usually worked. The next morning, he showed up with a rose and wanted to meet the kids."
"He fell in love with the kids a lot sooner than he fell in love with me. He looked at us as three blessings instead of just one. I just kept waiting for the man that I deserved, and God blessed me with him."
So on this Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to implement a bit of sport flair into whatever you’re planning for that special girl.
Take her to a ballgame, shoot some hoops with her, or if you have a body like David Beckham, simply take off your shirt and kick a soccer ball back and forth.
Just remember, as long as you don’t pull a Kobe, Valentine’s Day is yours to enjoy. And who knows, if you’re daring/stupid enough to ask her to marry you on the Jumbotron, she just might say "yes."
This article was originally published on The Harvard Independent.