Former athletes finish first in race for top jobs


June 17, 2014
Brain & Behavior

Whether you were a quarterback or point guard, past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs, according to a new Cornell University study.

“Participation in competitive youth sports ‘spills over’ to occupationally advantageous traits that persist across a person’s life,” says Kevin M. Kniffin, postdoctoral research associate at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and lead researcher.

Research by Kniffen and his co-authors, published online this week in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, shows that people who played a varsity high school sport are expected to be more self-confident, have more self-respect, and demonstrate more leadership than people who were part of other extracurricular activities.

Former varsity athletes also reported significantly higher prosocial volunteerism and charitable activities. Also, many ex-jock octogenerians parlayed 65-year-old leadership skills into successful management careers – some at the highest level.

“In our study of late-career workers, those who earned a varsity letter more than 50 years ago do demonstrate these characteristics more than others – plus, they donate time and money more frequently than others and possessed great prosocial behavior in their 70s, 80s, and 90s,” said Kniffin.


Former athletes finish first in race for top jobs

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