Athletes and Attractiveness

As a young college girl, both I and the women around me have feelings and emotions bouncing off the wall in all different directions. However, one thing I have noticed since I have gotten here to Penn State, is a large amount of women who find the football, basketball, and hockey team players more attractive than just your average Penn State male. I am not kidding, I have seen girls go to some pretty crazy extents to get the athletes here to notice them, or say hi to them, or even just look at them more frequently than usual. This not only occurs at the college level, but thinking back to even high school, everyone where I came from wanted to date the quarterback of the football team or the star soccer player, and when you did you were put on some kinds of a pedestal. Movies have even associated the main character as a football player or a good looking outfielder on the baseball team on purpose to catch the attention of the viewers because it is part of our culture. Also national level is even more severe where both young and older women obsess over the best athletes forming a serious crush on an unattainable man. It begins to become unrealistic but we still have those feelings and emotions that make us attracted to them. This is where I began to question myself. Why are athletes more attractive and is there something in our brains that have linked athletics ability to attractiveness?


As I researched I found a study from an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Eric Postma, at the University of Zurich who did a study of the 2012 Tour de France athletes ( For the survey he chose 80 photos of the cycling participants and cropped their faces, and if anyone recognized the athletes their answers were not used. This way they had no indication of how talented the athletes were, and all they were looking at was their face. The study proved clear results, the top 10% of cyclists in terms of their performance scored 25% more attractive than the bottom 10% (

However, there is also the question, does being a good athlete make you attractive or does being attractive make you a good athlete? As we learned in class about confounding third variables and correlations, there sometimes can be a reversed correlation or a third variable that sometimes does not affect the results directly. But Dr. Postma shares his thoughts about the biology aspect stating, and I quote, “Females often prefer to mate with high-quality males, and one aspect of quality is physical performance. Although a preference for physically fitter males is therefore predicted, the relationship between attractiveness and performance has rarely been quantified” (

Overall there are more biological factors as to why you thought that Eric Decker was looking extra sexy on game day so don’t think you are the only one. Women are attracted to strength and characteristics associated with high testosterone productions, such as a more masculine face ( As I said before, Postma’s study proves that scientists are now finding that women are attracted to endurance characteristics also. So let’s face it ladies, it is in our nature and biological makeup to be attracted to strong, attractive, athletic male athletes.

Links where I found info/survey/photo:

9 thoughts on “Athletes and Attractiveness

  1. Olivia Helen Dearment

    I love this post! Honestly, what girl in her right mind would tell you she’s “not interested in athletes.” It is honestly a way of nature it seems like in college girls, especially at a high athletic level such as Penn State. It is interesting to conclude whether or not we think that these guys are actually highly attractive or if it is just because they play a sport that we automatically crave their attention. Personally, I think it is both. I can definitely pinpoint the attractive male when I see one, and just knowing that they are athletic, strong and play at a collegiate level just increases it for me. It’s a package deal, I’ll admit.

  2. Abigail Louise Edwards

    As a college girl, this post was great! It was very relatable. Something that I would like to propose is that not only do college girls find athletes more attractive, but I bet college guys find girls who are athletes more attractive as well. After reading your post I have concluded that I believe that it is physical attraction that causes this. Athletes typically are more fit and toned, due to constant exercise. This leads to being more appealing physically.

  3. Isobel Danielle Hoang

    Last year I took the class Anthropology 216: Sex and Evolution. In the class we talked about why men and women are attracted to certain characteristics and why. Since women have a lower reproductive rate than men (9 months plus as opposed to men’s whenever since women carry the baby) they are looking for evidence of investment and good genes. Females want investment and good genes because it increases the odds that their offspring will survive and produce another generation to carry on the females genes (evolutionary). While sports do not influence evidence of investment, it does infer good genes since the athletes have superior genes which allowed them to reach the collegiate level. From an evolutionary stand point, men with athletic genes would have been more likely to survive in the past as they had the strength to outrun predators and the good health to fight off disease- this made them a desirable mate. This could help explain why females are more attracted to athletes because from evolution- females want good genes for their offspring.

  4. Maura Katherine Maguire

    I was immediately intrigued by this blog post. I can say I find athletes 100x more good looking than people who don’t play sports. I have found myself obsessed over professional athletes or the characters in my favorite shows who play the captain of a sports team. Great post I really liked it.

  5. Yinghui Huang

    This is such an intriguing topic! One good example that comes out of my mind is that men are crazy about World Cup, also the women. Mostly, women are attracted to the good physical appearance of football players. But I am wondering is it possible that there may be a confounding variable other than athletes’ attractive appearance, makes women so obsessed with athletes? It’s cool to date athletes maybe because of the gain of public attention and the desire to show off? Actually, not only women are obsessed with men athletes, but also some men are obsessed with women athletes. I find an interesting article talking about why are some men attracted to athletic and muscular women.

  6. mld5569

    This post really made me think about my past relationships and I’m not kidding when i say 90% of the guys i have dated in the past were on some sort of sports team. I never intentionally tried to date guys that played sports, it’s just always who I found myself attracted to.

  7. Patrick James Mcgovern

    What interests me about this post is that an actual experiment went on to remove bias and see if people were actually more attracted to the physical attributes of an athlete. In my opinion, this has no grounds for legitimacy. I think this is a more societal and generational idea. It is in our history as a country in school and family-type settings for girls to be drawn to athletes because that is how it has always been. Of course, the masculine, powerful, and able-bodied characteristics are all there, but I feel like people will always want athletes simply by virtue of that label. Here is another post I found that suggests some other relations:

  8. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    I can admit too that my friends and I also obsess over athletes so I completely agree with your post that girls are mostly attracted to athletes. We all have our preferences on different types of athletes from different sports, however, so I did some research on this idea. I found this interesting article ( that talks about how long distance runners are seen as one of the most attractive athletes, and the reasoning behind it comes from our evolutionary background.

  9. Mackenzie French

    I had to comment on this because I even find myself attracted to athletes. My friends and I were actually talking about this topic last week. I have a friend who always finds herself liking lacrosse boys, unintentionally, it’s pretty funny. I never thought there was actually science behind this, so I found the survey you talked about quite interesting. I agree that women are more attracted to athletes than just a normal male, but I also believe that women like talented men in general. Check out this article, it talks about how science can explain why talented musicians get the girls. This topic could also relate to why so many girls find Justin Bieber “the hottest man on earth.”

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