Is There a Link Between Playing Sports and Success in Business?

What do a number of Chief Executive Officers have in common? They played competitive sports when they were younger.

But according to a series of EY studies, it is even more common for female executives to have played a sport. They surveyed 821 high-level executives and found that a whopping 90% played sports, which increased to 96% when EY included other employment positions.

Below is a few reasons why playing sports can boost your chances at success:

1. Sports Often Reflects Privilege

It may not be that playing sports causes someone to become more of a leader; instead, the truth may be that people who are already competitive and have leadership potential are drawn to sports as kids. They and their families are also often more likely to be affluent, since participation on so many teams requires significant cash outlays.

Sports consume time, energy and resources that many families cannot spare. People who are well-off are more likely to play sports, as well as become CEOs. If you can afford fencing lessons, your child’s odds of becoming a CEO are already quite good.

2. Competition Builds Character

Sports keep you physically and mentally healthy, teach you important relationship skills and forge determination. These benefits often spill over into the business world.

2. Confidence Helps When Networking

The NCAA has a robust career centre. Wall Street’s “Lacrosse Mafia” recruits All-American players at staggering rates. You can even scroll through the 42 best lacrosse players on Wall Street.

Northwestern sociologist Lauren Rivera notes that hiring rates increase the most among candidates who played “sports that have a strong presence at Ivy League schools as well as pay-to-play club sports, such as lacrosse, field hockey, tennis, squash and crew.”

Why Do Rugby Union Players Make Such Good Business People?

Rugby union is known around the globe for being a hard hitting, but fair sport. In many ways it’s hard to imagine parallels between the boardroom and rugby pitch. But the Advisory Excellence journalism department found that might not be the case.

Rugby union’s historical frugality is a major reason for its close and practical ties to business, says Sean Fitzpatrick. Sean recently spoke at Grant Thornton’s Inspiring Business event, which was part of a series dedicated to generating ideas amongst coveted audiences.

George Gregan is one of the Australia’s most successful rugby union players. However, five years into his international career George started his own small business called GG’s Espresso shop, which is based in Sydney Australia’s business district.

George and Erica Gregan

George and Erica Gregan

To a soccer fan this might sound like an odd move, but there lies one of the major differences between a game in which you throw the ball and one in which you kick it.

Rugby union went professional in 1995, and although the amount of money pumped into the sport has steadily increased, players’ wages are still small compared to that of soccer.

Entrepreneurship is therefore crucial for players heading into their twilight years.

Advisory Excellence would like to give shout out to The Rugby Business Network. A popular world-wide not-for-profit organisation that aims to connect senior business people who share a passion for rugby union at private networking dinners and events.