Sporty students score superior salaries – earning nearly £6,000 a year more than those who are buried in their books, according to researchers at Sheffield Hallam University.
A study has found that graduates who played sport at university earn an average 18 per cent more than their non-sporting counterparts - £32,500 a year compared with £26,700.
And the positive effects of sport go beyond that of greater earning power, the research found.
More than half - 51 per cent - of graduates quizzed said sporting involvement has helped them to develop team skills and leadership qualities in the workplace.
Employers also recognise the benefits of sport in developing successful careers, with more than nine in ten of those questioned identifying a clear link between university sport participation and valuable skills and strengths in potential employees.
And the news gets worse for non-sporty types - over a quarter of them have been out of work at some point in their career, compared with just over one in five of the sportsmen and women.
The report on sport and graduate employability was carried out by Hallam’s Sport Industry Research Centre and questioned more than 5,800 students and 112 top companies.
The centre’s co-director, Professor Simon Shibli, said sporting involvement enabled job candidates to show off personal qualities such as drive, ambition, motivation and leadership.
“As the number of graduates increases, students need to do more than pass a degree to get their first job and to sustain their employability,” he said.
“The evidence indicates strongly that in the context of rising fees, engagement in sport is associated with providing a good career return on investment.
“There is also significant evidence from employers that engagement in sport is a recognised strength and a source of differentiation between top quality and average graduates.
“However it’s not just about playing sport - it’s the involvement in volunteering and management aspects that can provide a competitive advantage in the jobs market,” he added.