4 Ways Sports Can Benefit Careers

Sean Mccall
Office Managing Vice President, Houston Office

In my younger days as a student-athlete, I had the belief that the time I spent on my sports were only advancing the "athlete" in me and not the "student" or the "professional" in me.  I realize now I couldn't have been more wrong.

I recently had the pleasure of combining one of my personal passions (Ultimate Frisbee) with work for the purposes of new hire campus recruiting on the campus of Brigham Young University in the beautiful setting of Provo, Utah.  I took this opportunity to address some topics that were never addressed to me as a student-athlete.

Sports harden you in important ways

One of the traps that coaches, teachers, parents can fall into is to praise one's intelligence.  Scientific research from Carol Dweck (link) describes the uplift of praising one's effort, which often leads to the person being willing to try the next challenging problem, versus praising one's intelligence which often leads to hesitation when faced with the next challenging problem.  Sports allow you to practice your best effort, with tight feedback loops on your performance and preparation.  These feedback loops are often much smaller and closer together than the feedback loops we experience at work in the form of feedback from our Manager or formal performance reviews.

 "In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened."
-- Tommy Lasorda

Sports often afford you leadership opportunities

Most teams that are below the professional level allow for members of the team to opt-in to team support roles like Manager, Captain, Coach, Logistics Coordinator, Treasurer, etc.  These support roles can allow you the chance to be a leader by organizing a fundraiser or defining a new framework or methodology for the team's benefit.  Some roles like Captain or Coach allow you to handle difficult moments like team morale, managing emotions after a loss, interpersonal conflicts among teammates, playing time issues, conflict resolution, and many more.  I think of sports like a petri dish for leadership.

Sports are perfect opportunities to build your teamwork experience for behavioral interviews

Recruiters and executives might be open to interview candidates using a non-work example in an interview.  Our company Pariveda Solutions certainly is, as was each company I interviewed with when I was a college senior at LSU.  I had many great stories to tell from athletics when faced with questions like: Tell me about a time when a teammate wasn’t pulling their weight.  Tell me about a time when you encountered something that felt insurmountable.  Tell me about a time when you have failed at something you cared passionately about.  Good sportsmanship has a strong parallel to the workplace and can help build emotional intelligence, situational knowledge, and humility.  It also has a nice byproduct of staying fit which can help build confidence and increase productivity.

 "If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough."
-- Mario Andretti

Sports can help you build your network

Sports teams often have a wonderful cross section of professions or college majors, which allows you to expand the domain reach of your network.  You have the opportunity to expand the geographic reach of your network as you advance to more area- or state- or region-level competitions.  Sports is a great way to connect with people in a new city and build a network in addition to your work friends.

I believe there is an opportunity to promote more blending of these two worlds and be more open as coaches, teachers, managers, and parents about the benefits of participating in sports for performance and effectiveness in school and business.  Personally, sports have helped me through some of the most difficult or challenging moments in my life including building confidence during adolescent years, finding my identity in high school and college, building a professional network that extended past work, and meeting my lovely wife.

In what ways have sports been a benefit in your career?  In your life?

I don't know if Odell Beckham Jr. would be a good fit for your company but I lived in the athletic dorm at LSU with his dad and I saw Odell Sr. as a leader, a team player, and a fierce competitor, and I have enjoyed keeping up with him since.  Would you hire Odell Beckham Jr.?

Sean Mccall

About the Author

Sean McCall Office Managing Vice President, Houston Office
Mr. Sean McCall brings a wealth of professional services, business intelligence and custom software experience to our Management Team. He is a highly-motivated and forward-thinking professional services leader, with a team sports background, who can inspire groups to greatness.

More Perspectives

Perspective
by Bruce Ballengee
Teaching Roots Run Deep
Perspective
by Kent Norman and Kevin Moormann
I’ll be Home in Five Story-points
Perspective
By Russell Clarkson
Is your Ecosystem a pipeline or a platform?
Perspective
by Dimitrios Vilaetis
Business Capabilities: a Spotlight for Strategic Decision Making
Perspective
by Russell Clarkson
Mark Your Exits
Perspective
by Bruce Ballengee
Leadership and Company Culture
Perspective
by Kerry Stover
I Know You Believe You Understood What You Think I Said
Perspective
by Brian Duperrouzel
How to Handle Management Kidnapping
Perspective
By Russell Clarkson
What Chuck Yeager Taught Me About Disruption
Perspective
by Brian Duperrouzel
Lessons on Project and Team Management
Perspective
by Bruce Ballengee
Consulting that Focuses on the Individual
Perspective
By Bruce Ballengee
Developing the Individual
Perspective
by Lori Dipprey
Why Performance Reviews are Here to Stay at Pariveda
Perspective
By Nathan Hanks
What it Means to be "in the People Business"
Perspective
By Bruce Ballengee
Pariveda Fin-Centric Design
Perspective
By Bruce Ballengee
Unleashing the Power of Humility
Perspective
By Mike Strange
4 Reasons to Leverage the Power of Small Teams
Perspective
By David Watson
The Benefits of Working in Teams
Perspective
by Sean McCall
Forget Coffee- Energize Your Work Morning
Perspective
By Allison Esenkova
Wearing Heels to the Top
Perspective
by David Watson
Work-Life Balance
Perspective
by Allison Esenkova
Listen to the Still Small Voice
Perspective
By Kerry Stover
Must Read Books from the COO
Perspective
By Russell Clarkson
Why You Should take a Massive Open Online Course
Perspective
By Scott Hajer
The Importance of Making Space to Think
Perspective
by Sean McCall
4 Ways Sports Can Benefit Careers
Perspective
By Russell Clarkson
Stand Up for Good Presentations
Perspective
by Derrick Bowen
How Much of your Project Value is At Risk Due to Cognitive Bias
Perspective
by Susan Paul
Capabilities as Building Blocks
Perspective
By Susan Paul
When Corporate Culture Undermines IT Success
Perspective
by Kent Norman
Limit, to Win It
Perspective
By Brian Duperrouzel
The Case for Onshore Technology Teams
Perspective
By Tim Hurst
Unlocking Marketing ROI Analytics
Perspective
by Brian Duperrouzel
Hippos and Cows are Stopping Your Machine Learning Projects
Perspective
By Jack Warner
Building Smart Deployment Pipeline
Perspective
By Tom Cunningham
The Sound of the Future
Perspective
By Scott Hajer
You Need Only One Kind of Recruiting Technology
Point of View
by Ansley Galjour
Continuous Brand Engagement
Perspective
By Marc Helberg
3 Ways You Can Begin to Take Patient Experience More Seriously
Perspective
By Ryan Gross
What Does It Really Mean to Operationalize a Predictive Model
Perspective
by Sophie Zugnoni
Did You Catch Machine Learning Fever?
Perspective
By Collins DeLoach
What does Cloud Transformation mean it IT?
Perspective
By Mike Strange
Untangling and Understanding DevOps
Perspective
by Clayton Rothschild
Blockchain in an Enterprise Setting
Perspective
by Mike Strange
DevOps a Practical Framework for Technology Process and Organizational Change
Perspective
by Julio Santos - Finity Member
Context as Currency
Perspective
by Oussama Housini
Why DevOps?
Perspective
by Dave Winterhalter
Data in the Dugout
Perspective
by Brian Duperrouzell
3 Tips to get the Blockchain Ball Rolling
Perspective
by Victor Diaz
6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Data Visualization Library
Perspective
By Julio Santos and Jon Landers
How Customer Context and Smarter Algorithms will Power the Next Level of Experiences and Engagement
Perspective
by Mike Strange
Can We Predict the Future?
Perspective
By Brian Duperrouzel
No Estimates, No Approval, No Dice
Perspective
By Marc Helberg
How AI Will Affect Your Patient’s Experience
Perspective
By Sean Beard and Brian Orrell
Life After Mobile
Perspective
by Phillip Manwaring
Let Serverless Solve the Tech Problems You Don't Have
Perspective
by Mike Strange
Bigger is Not Necessarily Better
Perspective
By Marc Helberg
Patient Experience – Taking the Next Step Through Machine Learning
Load More