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Feature Story

March 2016


Gallup Study Looks at Long-Term Well-Being of Former Student Athletes

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A recent study conducted by Gallup Inc. in collaboration with NCAA aimed to track the long-term outcomes for past participants in college sports compared with other students. The survey, which evaluated the well-being of athletes vs. non-athletes who graduated between 1970 and 2014, was conducted in 2014.

Well-being was defined as the interaction and interdependency among various aspects of life, developed by Gallup and Healthways. Those aspects include: purpose, social, financial, community and physical.

Former college athletes were more likely than non-athletes to report that they were thriving in four of the five well-being factors: purpose, social, community, and physical. The financial well-being factor was more equitable between non-athletes and athletes.

The study, titled "Understanding Life Outcomes of Former NCAA Student-Athletes," found that former student-athletes were most likely to be thriving in the "purpose" element of their well-being. Some 56 percent of former student-athletes were thriving in this respect. An even higher number (62 percent) of those who had played football or men's basketball reported that they like what they do each day and are motivated to achieve their goals.

When it comes to the community aspect of well-being, more than half (54 percent) of former college athletes were thriving, compared to 45 percent of non-athletes. The study suggested that the strong showing for community well-being among former athletes was likely due to service efforts made by student-athletes during their undergraduate careers. According to the 2015 NCAA Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College Survey, almost 90 percent of current student-athletes reported engaging in community service.

The numbers for social well-being were the same for athletes vs. non-athletes, with 54 percent of former student-athletes reporting they were thriving in social well-being, compared with 45 percent of non-athletes.

When it comes to physical well-being, defined as having physical health that is near-perfect and feeling active and productive every day of the week, some 41 percent of former student-athletes were thriving, compared with 33 percent of non-athletes.

While rates of unemployment were similar for both former student-athletes and non-athletes (3 percent), some 82 percent of former student-athletes said they were employed full-time or part-time at their desired level, compared with 78 percent of those were not student athletes.


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