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Athletics + Business = Success

By Heather Bateman 

It’s no coincidence that a majority of our students are involved in athletics. That’s because the values they learn being a member of an athletic team translates well to careers in business.  

Women's lacrosse team

The sports-business connection is vibrantly clear: learning to work with others, discipline, leadership, and determination are all attributes that are essential for business and entrepreneurship, and our student-athletes learn first learn this on the playing field. 

Men's soccer

Overseeing 15 varsity sports and 275 student-athletes, I think about how our robust athletic offerings connect to the Cleary mindset. We talk about ethics, problem-solving, leadership and communication – all essential values to participate in college athletics.

And yet, these are some of the attributes of The Cleary Mind.  

Men's baseball

Hand in hand, academics and athletics inform and inspire one another. What we are trying to instill in the classroom at Cleary University we also seek to instill on and off the field of play.  

Women's softball

Entrepreneur Aaron Kwittken wrote about this sport-business connection in this Entrepreneur Magazine article. He shares studies that show the connection between aerobic and strength training and better focus, memory, mental acuity and cognitive performance. 

Women's soccer

He also draws a keen parallel between competitive athletes and successful business people: 

  • Planning a race strategy, he says, is like planning a business strategy. Both require goal-setting, laser-sharp focus, training, resources, and metrics. 
  • When you exercise daily, your focus at work is sharper. 
  • Competitive athletes build a network of connections that stay with them throughout their careers. They help one another and make introductions – which is key to building business. 

In business, we work a lot on problem-solving and communication. We must be clear and focused – on the field and in the classroom.  This leads to strong employees in the business field.  

Men's hockey

We learn that leaders can make or break a team – build them up or truly break them down. For both athletics and business to succeed, we need consummate leaders who work on cohesion, camaraderie and connection, and we have team players who want to work together for everyone’s greater good. 

Employers are eager to meet Cleary students who have participated in one of our strong athletic programs because they seek that discipline and team mentality for their workplaces. 

Women's dance team

TEDx speaker and author John O’Sullivan says great coaches can instill self-awareness and understanding in athletes. Both are needed in the professional world. He believes great leaders make every player feel invaluable – and they rise to the occasion because of this ethos. 

With our avid athletics department and innovative Business Arts curriculum, Cleary University is the place where students become masters of the mind and innovators of the future.  

Heather Bateman is Director of Athletics at Cleary University.