NEW YORK (MainStreet) The lessons learned playing varsity sports in high school appear to carry over into the workplace, even some 60 years down the road.
Cornell University researchers found that former high school varsity athletes seemed to have higher-status jobs, volunteered more in the community and donated to charity more frequently than nonathletes. The results formed the basis for "Sports at Work: Anticipated and Persistent Correlates of Participation in High School Athletics," by Kevin M. Kniffin, Brian Wansink and Mitsuru Shimizu and published in June in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.
A previous small study by the researchers showed that people expect former student athletes to be better leaders compared with people who were active in school activities outside of sports.
"Previous research has shown that people who played a high school sport tend to have higher salaries at mid-career points," Kevin M. Kniffin, the study's lead investigator, a postdoctoral research associate in the Lab for Experimental Economics and Decision Research at Cornell University. "The new article sheds light on the reasons why that relationship exists," he says.
In addition to being team players and leaders and being competitive, former high school athletes interviewed for Mainstreet say they carry over other traits into business that they learned through playing high-level sports.
As the captain of his high school varsity team, Trey Ditto "had to learn what motivates different players to play their best," he says. Trey who later played D1 soccer at West Point, says, "Being an athlete allowed me to look at a game, understand what was working and what wasn't, make necessary adjustments and give our team the best opportunity to win." He now runs his own PR agency, Ditto Public Affairs.
"The interaction with different personalities on and off the court created a capacity for leading people from all backgrounds," says K. L. Herald, who owns a leadership development training firm. "The skills gained from working as a team to achieve the overall goal are the keys skills I use as a professional today."