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July 01, 2008


Ben Hughes

I don't buy causal relationship here. It seems completely reasonable to me that the kind of people who exercise (take care of themselves, have energy and ambition) are naturally the same kind of people who excel in their careers.




The paper does try to control for this selection effect. Even if the controls are inadequate, however, the relationship might still be causal.
A naturally competitive person would be attracted to sport. But in playing he'd learn just how hard it is to master a skill. And he might figure: "if I have to work this hard just to be a mediocre tennis player, maybe I have to work really hard to be good at my job." Sport then causes productivity, even if it initially only attracts the competitive type.


How was 'sport' defined? is it inclusive of things like swimming? Is golf a sport, or a game? ditto darts.

Sport is not synonymous with skill - if you can run fast, or lift heavy weights, is this a skill? racing or lifting tactics, ok might be a skill, if you do it competitively.

Sport also involves things like committment, effort, teamwork (in some cases) which might be useful in a career too. And its in a social setting, and you can compete in a sports club etc and be friends afterwards.

Sport is such a wide definition and the difference in people's experiences would be vast, I'd imagine.


Few more reasons:

1. People who play sports are more confident about themselves, they're more social (sports are generally social events) so they're better at negotiating salaries and selling themselves, crucial skills for improving pay.

2. According to John Medina (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK1nMQq67VI), sports and in particular aerobic exercise helps us learn better and improve our intellectual abilities. It's supposed to be all wired in our brain and all due to the survival of the fittest.

3. I'm no statistician, but there must be a strong correlation between: playing sports (generally zero-sum games that develop an ambition to win) - ambition - career success - pay.


Whether football makes us healthier (my wrist, and others' knees and ankles, would have a few things to say about this), clears our minds of clutter, or helps us 'bond', the company I work at seems to believe so (or most likely writes it off as a perk). Thus we're allowed 1-2 hours off a week to play a sport at the local leisure centre. So in this case, my higher income has simply coincided with (and my job change was the cause of) my playing much more sport than before. I'm not entirely sure if that's been factored-in.

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