Why Did The Athlete Cross The Road?

In the May issue of Competitor Magazine, we looked into focus levels between athletes and non-athletes, and found surprising results.

Written by: Cielestia Calbay

Athletes are better than bookworms at crossing busy roads, but not because of the athletes’ agility and speed, according to a study published in The Journal of American College of Sports Medicine.

Thirty six male and female students were recruited for the study conducted by researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Half of the students were varsity athletes at the Division I university and the other half were student volunteers from different academic departments.

Participants were sent to appointed labs where a treadmill was placed amid three 10-foot-square video screens. They were then given special goggles to wear that displayed a virtual cityscape. When it felt safe, they were instructed to cross a busy road.

At the end of the study, student athletes were more successful in the crossings than the non-athletes, but not because of their physical prowess; researchers believe the athletes were better able to maneuver through speeding traffic because, through their sports training, athletes have learned to gather and process data more speedily and accurately than non-athletes.


Cielestia Calbay is the associate editor of Competitor Magazine. If she’s not at the office, you’ll probably find her outdoors or scouring the area for the nearest juice bar. She can be reached at ccalbay@competitorgroup.com or @ccalbay

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