Student athletes make headlines because of athletics, not academics. When we do get attention due to academic performance it’s usually because our post graduation employment rates are significantly lower than those of our peers, or because an athletic department let their student athletes take Swahili classes in English to fulfill a foreign language requirement (seriously?).

Student athletes are loved and appreciated for hitting home-runs or beating the school rival. But for contributions in the business world? Not so much.

Now, anyone who has worked with student athletes knows the drive, passion, teamwork, and leadership abilities that student athletes develop throughout their careers – skills that are critical to many leadership roles in business. Not convinced? Check out my top 6 reasons why student athletes (would) make great CEOs:

1) Athletes are used to a relentless grind.

From 5 am conditioning workouts until late night study sessions, college athletes face a daily grind consisting of multiple workouts, hours upon hours in the training room, and travel for games; all on top of the regular class and study regimen most of their classmates consider “a lot of work.” Leadership roles in business come with the same level of intensity and time commitment. 9-5 isn’t a concept College athletes are familiar with so don’t expect them to settle for it in the business world.

2) Athletes don’t break under daily pressure.

College athletes face intense pressure every single day: pressure from fans and classmates to win, pressure from coaches and boosters to perform, and pressure from family and hometown supporters to make it to the pros. This is not too different from CEOs who have to handle pressure from investors, expectations from board members, and the trust placed in them by employees and team members.

3) Athletes deliver in the clutch.

Imagine standing on the free throw line with 2 seconds on the clock, your team down one point. Thousands of people watching, cheering against you. Your entire team, school, and hometown relying on you to win the game. Nervous yet?

Athletes are trained to perform when the spotlights are on them. We learn at a young age not to let fear control us, but to focus on our skill when it matters most. This ability to remain collected is extremely valuable in a high-pressure business environment and allows Athletes to deliver results when the stakes are high.

4) Athletes thrive on visions and goals.

Your life as an athlete revolves around future goals such as winning the next game or making the playoffs next spring. Athletes spend all summer working, without anyone watching or cheering, just so they can win months or years later. Similarly, as a business leader, you need to be able to thrive on visions and long-term goals in order to inspire the people who work for you.

5) Athletes know the keys to team building.

Athletes understand that team building is about finding the right “role players.” The best teams oftentimes consist of great specialists who work well together. Nowhere is this as apparent as in football but most other sports work the same way: you become great at your role and trust your team mates to cover your weaknesses.

6) Athletes are leaders.

Athletics are a constant lesson in leadership. As an Athlete when you start out as a rookie, you learn from your coaches, team captains, and older players with much more experience and better leadership skills than you. One day, the older players graduate and you’re put in their position. It’s a cycle that teaches leadership over the course of many years: first you learn to follow then you learn to lead.

Play For Something

Interested in learning more about how student athletes can pave into business? Check out my book Play For Something. You can get it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.