Stories set in the high-stakes world of professional sports are one of the most popular and enduring romance subgenres. Why? Because of the larger-than-life heroes. Professional athletes are rich, extremely fit, and not afraid of working hard to get what they want. But winning and keeping the heart of a professional athlete requires a special set of skills.
Creativity in the Kitchen
In order to maintain their incredible stamina on and off the field, athletes need fuel. But not just any food will do. Like Gabe, the hero of my novel For the Win, professional athletes tend to be superstitious about their pre-game meals. If you’re the cook in the household, be prepared for some unusual kitchen requests. Whether it’s three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into crust-less stars, a hot dog topped with Skittles and sauerkraut, or a favorite childhood recipe that must be prepared exactly as his mother made it, your culinary skills will be put to the test. While you may be tempted to alter the meals to be less, well, disgusting, resist this urge at all costs. A dash too much parsley could ruin your goalie’s shutout streak. The wrong flavor of Starburst could spell disaster for your quarterback’s completion percentage. And if cooking isn’t your thing? Not a problem. That’s what takeout and personal chefs are for. Just remember, the words “I’ll have what he’s having” are not your friend!
A Healthy Appreciation for Technology
The raison d’être of every romance novel is to bring the main characters together. But when it comes to a happily ever after with someone whose job requires him to be on the road for large chunks of time, “together” is at times more figurative than literal. Fortunately, the days of relying on sports news and tabloid reports for updates are long gone. Video chatting is a great way to stay in touch during the long road trips, but if you’re craving even more connection, there’s an abundance of apps geared toward long-distance relationships. Whether it’s watching your favorite TV show in perfect sync or controlling your partner’s vibrator, there is no distance that technology cannot conquer.
A Poor Sense of Smell
Romance novelists love to describe their heroes as smelling woodsy, or like warm leather and clean soap, or even like “raw masculinity” (ahem… guilty!). But the truth is that although pro athletes have the physiques to model for their own line of colognes, there’s no romantic way to describe the stench of sweat-soaked gym clothes and sports gear. And professional athletes sweat a lot. So unless you were born with an impaired sense of smell, be prepared to invest in some scented candles and a bottle of Febreeze.
A Competitive Spirit
Professional athletes may be passionate about winning, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them. Whether it’s a game of Scrabble or an argument over who controls the remote, it’s important to claim your rightfully earned victories. And if you happen to be a diehard fan of his team’s biggest rival? Go ahead and paint your face with your team’s colors before settling into the couch to watch the big game—a little healthy competition is a great way to keep the sparks flying in a relationship.