Life Lessons: How Playing Sports Can Make you a Business Success

We often extol the fitness benefits of playing sports when younger, but we tend to focus on the health benefits more than anything else. While staying active by playing sports certainly has a number of health benefits that will help you throughout your life, there are other benefits that sports can have when it comes to doing well in your career.

It has long been thought that playing sports when younger can help lead to business success later in life, and now research suggests that this is often the case. So is it time you started getting involved in sports to give your career a boost?

Playing soccer in the mud

Research Shows Sports Matter in the Workplace

Lots of research has come out in recent years regarding the benefits that sporting activity can have for individuals in the workplace. One study was released by the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies and was reported in Fortune, and the research found that sports players often went on to develop better leadership skills, more confidence, and better team-working abilities.

Another report called ‘Making the connection: women, sport and leadership’ was released by the EY Women Athletes Business Network and espnW, and it found that female executives were more likely to have been involved in sports when they were younger.

Breaking the Ice with Sport Instead of Cold Calling

Sporting events are also great places to socialize. They offer business people the potential to meet and liaise with prospective customers. Sports setting are less formal than a business meetings or a cold calls. Companies like who specialize in commercial property leases treat their business landlords with sporting ticket events, an excellent way to break the ice and warm up potentially new business. Other companies are known to organize friendly sporting matches between their employees; an innovative meet and greet by any standards.

So How Do Sports Benefit You?

There are so many ways that sports can provide you with essential skills and qualities that can help you in your career.

One of the main skills that sports teaches you is self-discipline. You need dedication and the desire to continually improve if you want to enjoy success, and this helps you to see how hard work pays off—a crucial skill at work.

One thing that employers love to see is their employees always giving their best. If you have played sports, you will know that this is always your goal. Although there will always be someone better than you, you should always try to do your best and continually improve.

Junior soccer team
photo credit: David Clow / Flickr

Sport can also help you when it comes to making key decisions, and this can help later in life when it comes to important career.

Sportspeople are often excellent at team building. They know how to leverage everyone’s unique abilities and how respecting other people to get the best performance from them.

You also learn what it means to lose without letting it defeat you. Sportspeople know that they won’t win all the time, and when they lose they learn how to carry on and become better.

In addition, sportspeople may have a better work ethic, better problem-solving abilities, more of a desire to win, better motivational skills, and a competitive spirit that is needed in the workplace.

The Evidence: Athletes Who Are Also Business People

Not every athlete will go on to be successful in business, but there are certainly a large number of athletes who have done very well for themselves after their playing days ended (and some who have become successful business people while still playing). This suggests that the skills they have learnt as athletes could well play a role in some of their business success. A few famous names you may recognize include:

Tony Hawk, who runs is own empire that started with a skateboarding company and as well as a line of very successful video games.

Tony Hawk
photo credit: Jon Bonvouloir / Flickr

Venus Williams, who started V Starr Interiors, an interior design company, and became part owner of the Miami Dolphins along with Serena Williams.

George Foreman, who made a fortune with the George Foreman Grill and now has a net worth of over $250 million.

Magic Johnson, one of the greatest basketball player of all time, who runs Magic Johnson Enterprises and has invested in fitness centers and fast food chains among other things.

Get Involved in Sports to Boost Your Career

Being involved in sports activities as a young adult instills a number of important qualities in people. These should not be seen as qualities that are only useful on the basketball court or football pitch, but as qualities that stay with the athletes throughout their lives. It has long been suspected that sporting ability could provide a boost to people in the workplace, but now studies have confirmed the link.

Even if you were not particularly active when younger, there is no time like the present to start getting into sports. You never know, the things you learn while playing sports could well help to give your career a boost.