Professional athletes tend to be physically exceptional specimens—that just comes with the territory. What we might not expect out of them, though, are gifts of the intellectual variety. For a few lucky athletes, elite physical fitness is matched (and sometimes even surpassed) by their mental fitness.
Let’s round up just five of the smartest athletes alive!
1. He Mastered The SATs
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans, is no dummy. A list of his accomplishments includes graduating from Harvard, majoring in economics while in school, and scoring 1580 out of a possible 1600 on the SATs.
He also scored third highest in NFL history on the Wonderlic test, which the league uses to evaluate its players’ abilities to process information.
Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons
2. She Might Be One Of The Smartest Women Alive
If it isn’t enough that she’s a Wimbledon champion, the French-born tennis star Marion Bartoli also has an IQ of 175.
Not only is that higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, it also puts her in the top 0.0003 percent of the entire world (the average American’s IQ is 98). As you might expect from someone that brainy, Bartoli’s interests include classical ballet and art.
Markabq / Wikimedia Commons
3. From Gymnastic Bars To The Legal Bar
It’s clear that American gymnast Shannon Miller was pushed to train hard in all areas of her life, both athletically and academically. According to her, “Education was a priority in our household. Even when I was training seven hours a day, I was expected to keep up with my work and get good grades.”
Clearly, her training paid off, as she was not only the most-decorated American gymnast of all time, but she also became a lawyer after graduating from Boston College Law School in 2007.
Intel Free Press / Wikimedia Commons
4. Mastery From The Textbook To The Racetrack
While some athletes go on to pursue higher education that’s unrelated to their chosen sport, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman’s education was actually a benefit to his athletic career. Newman graduated from Purdue University with a degree in vehicle structure engineering, and he says that this has made him a better driver since he can communicate effectively with race engineers.
NASA/Kim Shiflett / Wikimedia Commons
5. Do Smart People Play This Sport, Or Does The Sport Create Smart People?
In a strange twist, the final entry in this top 5 list isn’t a single athlete, but rather a group of athletes.
More specifically, a 2006 study conducted at the University of Washington found that students who participate in Ultimate Frisbee were more likely to be successful academically. Over the course of a ten-year study, the numbers showed that the schools who ranked in the top half for Ultimate Frisbee have a graduation rate of over 85%, compared to the 60% rates of schools in the bottom half.
If you have high hopes for your child to be an athletic and academic prodigy, maybe you should start pushing them to take up Ultimate Frisbee.
Siena College / Wikimedia Commons