School Athletic Activity Tied to Higher Income

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of American adults participated in some form of athletic activity throughout their schooling years, with half (49%) participating in school team sports and 44% taking up other team sports outside of school, according to a poll by Harris Interactive.

The survey of 2,232 U.S. adults conducted online between January 14 and 20, 2015, suggests higher education levels are associated with participation in athletics. Sixty four percent of those who participated in sports went through some level of higher education, compared to just 45% of those who did not participate. They are more likely to have capped off their education with a four-year college degree (20% vs. 14%) compared to those who didn’t participate and are also twice as likely to have some form of post graduate education (12% vs. 6%).

Participation in athletics is also associated with higher incomes. Fifteen percent of adults who participated in athletics have a personal income greater than $100,000, compared to just 9% of those who did not participate. The same is true for household income levels; 28% of those who participated in sports have a household income greater than $100,000 compared to just 15% of those who did not.

The survey also suggests participation in athletics provides various skills that may be needed for success in a job or career. Those who were involved in athletics during school years agree that the skills they learned spanned beyond just those used on the playing field. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) feel their participation in athletic activities was extremely or very important in providing them with skills to work towards common goals. Similar percentages say it was important in helping them develop skills to strive for individual excellence in a group setting (66%) and to have a disciplined approach to problem solving (65%). Sixty percent each say athletics was important in helping them with flexibility in work situations and creative problem solving.

Those involved in athletics for three or more years are more likely than those who participated for less than three years to say it was very or extremely important in providing them with each of these skills.

  • Working towards common goals: 54% of those involved less than three years vs. 78% or more for those involved at least three years;
  • Striving for individual excellence in a group setting: 52% vs. 75% or more;
  • Disciplined approach to solving problems: 51% vs. 72% or more;
  • Flexibility in work situations: 47% vs. 65% or more; and
  • Creative problem solving: 47% vs. 61% or more.

 

Additionally, strong majorities of adults agree that the learnings and habits from participating in athletics help individuals later in life. More than eight-in-ten Americans (82%), and 87% of those who participated themselves, agree the learnings and habits from athletics equip people to be better team players in their career. Seventy-eight percent of the general population (and 83% of those who were involved with athletics) say it provides people with a disciplined approach to problem solving, while 77% of adults (and 83% of those who participated) agree it prepares someone to manage the tasks of their job more successfully.