How do sports students shape their careers?

On professional social networks, every beginning of the week arrives with its share of publications from executives and managers praising their weekend sports results. With lots of photos, they show the endurance (marathon, trail, cycling, triathlon, etc.) or agility (climbing, surfing, kitesurfing, etc.) that they have demonstrated in free training or in competition, as many skills as are useful to them in the context of their work. The benefits of sports for physical and mental health are no longer in doubt. It has also become a way of personal and professional development.

While we sometimes point to a generation glued to their screens, 2,600 business school students detailed their sports practice, the way it shaped their personality and the skills it allowed them to develop in relation to their professional project. It was also a question of understanding how a position in a team sport can enable optimization of career choices and fulfillment at work. The research was conducted by the NewGen Talent Centre, EDHEC's center of expertise on the aspirations, behaviors and skills of new generations of graduates. We explore what develops the skills and shapes the personality of younger generations to encourage their professional investment and development.

Gender differences

Younger generations almost unanimously define their attitude towards sports as pleasure and as stimulating pressure. Three out of four young people practice it regularly, more to surpass themselves than to win. Two thirds of them know how to motivate themselves, without the need for a coach. If they still prefer to compete for the club, it is especially because of the social connection.

Some gender differences appear in the attitude of younger generations towards sport: young women engage in it even more than men in order to surpass themselves, not to win. Men practice more regularly and compete more for the club than for themselves.

Which sports for which skills?

To identify key skills, sports are grouped by category according to how they are practiced: in teams for team sports (soccer, basketball, rugby, etc.); two or two face-to-face for martial or competitive sports (tennis, judo, fencing, etc.); individually and evaluated according to the physical measure (time, distance) for measured or measured sports (swimming, athletics, shooting, etc.); individually and evaluated by a jury for artistic or acrobatic sports (dance, figure skating, diving, etc.).

Overall, individual sports, especially timed or measured sports, structured women more and competitive or team sports structured men. The student explains:

“The team spirit found in football has taught me how to defend my personal interests while working for the collective achievement. In addition, the concepts of surpassing oneself from a physical point of view, accompanied by the necessary creativity, especially for dribbling, allowed me to acquire the values ​​that are important to me today. »

Sports seem to act as a catalyst for the development of managerial skills among young graduates. Resilience, enthusiasm and agility are the skills that younger generations tell us they have the most developed regardless of sport, the qualities that recruiters are looking for. This trio of skills is the one that tennis players have developed the most. Also note that 38% of tennis players strengthened their critical thinking

Above all, football strengthens collaborative qualities for 83% of players and confidence for almost half of players. As far as dancing is concerned, 80% of the participants develop attention to detail and 55% develop precious creativity.

According to the students, while all sports develop enthusiasm and agility, each sport is particularly conducive to the acquisition of certain skills.

What positioning on the field?

Imagining work as a team sport, 32% of respondents see themselves in the role of captain, 27% in the role of coach, 19% would be an attacker, 14% a defender and 8% a referee.

To better understand the ambitions implied by these choices, they were also asked to identify themselves according to three professional ambition profiles taken from a previous study. The first, competitors, is aimed at ambitious career development, motivated by the prospect of a managerial position, hierarchical responsibility and attractive compensation. The second, dedicated, is oriented towards world issues, motivated by the general interest, the culture and values ​​of the company, the usefulness of its mission. The last profile is driven by the desire to innovate, motivated by challenge, freedom of action, autonomy in assigned missions and project management. We are talking about entrepreneurs.

Depending on their gender and ambition profiles, students are positioned as follows:

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