My brother told me the other day that an investment bank one of his friends works for is looking to hire recent college graduates…and they just want to recruit college athletes (with some exceptions).
This is consistent with everything else I know, anecdotally and statistically. Anecdotally I can say most bright jocks enter professions such as investment banking, consulting, or other high stress/high payoff positions. Statistically college athletes make more money in their careers on average than non-athletes, probably because a college jock is less likely to go into academia, for example, than tthe corporate world. (See Princeton Roundtable and NYRB)
Despite my diminishing interest in sports, as a former jock I can say two things:
1) Non-athletes never seem to appreciate the skills a devoted athlete builds during his/her sports career. These skills include teamwork, communication, unwavering commitment, sacrifice, failure, and so forth. It is possible to build these skills in non-athletic situations, but it’s not as central as it is in team sports.
2) Non-athletes who complain about preferential admissions to colleges for recruited athletes never seem to acknowledge the projected earnings of athletes in their lifetime, and athletes’ tendency to give more to their alma mater. Athletes are meaningful donors to their schools. I’m not saying this should trump other troubling indicators of academically underqualified athletes on campus.
The phrase "dumb jock" may be true. But it is also true that being smart or dumb doesn’t necessarily project success from an earnings perspective. Other traits such as work ethic are important, and sometimes competitive sports indoctrinates these capacities better than simple mental exercise or effort.