This project was a slam dunk, that one was a home run, and it’s just the way the ball bounces—the last thing the business world needs to catalogue its accomplishments is another facile sports metaphor.
But it’s not just athletic metaphors that proliferate in the business world—it’s also athletes themselves. A recent study documented just how much the labor market smiles upon people who played sports as children: Former high-school athletes generally go on to have higher-status careers than those who didn’t play a sport. On top of that, former athletes’ wages are between 5 and 15 percent higher than those of the poor trombonists and Yearbook Club presidents. This earnings advantage doesn’t appear to exist for any other extracurricular activity.
“The thrust of the new article is to scratch the surface of the long-term, and workplace, relevance of playing competitive youth sports since it’s not a topic that’s been closely studied, despite the fact that sports offers a common experience for more than 40 percent of the population,” says Kevin Kniffin, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University who co-authored the study (as well as a childhood baseball, football, and soccer player).
Kniffin and his fellow researchers, Cornell’s Brian Wansink and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Mitsuru Shimizu, also found that high-school athletes were perceived to be better leaders and more confident than people who participated in other extracurriculars—which hints at a possible pro-athlete bias in hiring processes.
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