Academic Athlete

Yes, usually jocks are just dumb. But this jock is different. This jock just made the Dean's List and has to choose between an academic scholarship to a prestigious Ivy League school, or the football scholarship in the Big 12. In other words it's what you get when you combine a well toned mind with well toned muscles.

This character is much more likely to be female than male, even though the sports being played are traditionally male-dominated. This is probably done as a mix of Passionate Sports Girl and Higher Education Is for Women. If there's a contrast between two girls, this one will be firmly the Tomboy in Tomboy and Girly Girl because of how independent she is. Sensitive Guy and Manly Man on the other hand are less likely to use this as the sensitive guy is more likely to be academic and the manly man is more likely to be athletic.

They don't have a Dumb Muscle look to them, neither a smart one but sporty look, somewhere between casual and tough.

Can overlap with Renaissance Man if the Academic Athlete has more than just the two skills, especially if he has artistic ones.

Compare Genius Bruiser, Badass Bookworm, Adventurer Archaeologist, and the duo of Brains and Brawn.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Azumanga Daioh
    • Koyomi Mizuhara is an honors student, second only to Chiyo academically. She's also an outstanding athlete and usually does well during their school's annual sports fest.
    • Whereas Sakaki is the best athlete at the school, but also excels in her studies. Her test scores are usually shown to be just under after Chiyo and Yomi's.
  • In Kare Kano, Miyazawa and Arima are always near the top of the school's exam rankings, and Arima wins nationally at kendo. For Miyazawa, only other characters praise her sports ability, though.
  • Natsumi Hinata from Sgt. Frog is both the top athlete in school and near the top of her class in grades as well. She is contrasted with her little brother Fuyuki who is both un-athletic and more interested in his hobby than his studies. The Gag Dub naturally exaggerates both of these tendencies.
  • Hinagiku Katsura of Hayate the Combat Butler is the Student Council President with the highest grades whenever they are mentioned (her treasurer is second-highest and her secretary third) as well as the Captain of the rarely-ever-mentioned Kendo Team. As seen in the school's athletic festival and marathon race, she trumps just about everyone at school with the possible exceptions of Hayate himself and her older sister Yukiji (although Yukiji is nowhere near as smart as her and eventually studies to get near her level but has yet to surpass her).
  • Maken-ki!: Azuki initially seems like a jock, due to her tomboyish behavior and natural athleticism. But near the beginning of chapter 14, she's revealed to be an honors student at Tenbi Academy.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, the rose-seal duelists are not only the prettiest and most popular students (generally composed of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council and Utena) but they are also all excellent students to complete the perfect appearance. Given the nature of the series this sense of perfection is the source of both speculation and dramatic tension.
  • All the good quarterbacks in Eyeshield 21, Devil-Bats lineman Jumonji, sociopathic Jerk Jock Agon, and too many other examples to count. Generally the series likes avoiding Dumb Jock as much as possible.
    • Agon actually took a sports scholarship to Shinryuuji, even though he qualified for an academic scholarship, simply because he didn't like the other guy up for it.
  • Tezuka and Atobe from The Prince of Tennis are both the captain of their teams and the Student Council Presidents. Tezuka is so smart that he can even correct teachers sometimes.
  • Akemi Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of the smartest and best at sports in her class. Which makes the contrast with her initial role as being neither good at academics nor able to do gym class at all in Timeline 1 that much more jarring.
  • Takenori Akagi from Slam Dunk is both the captain of the basketball team and one of the smartest students in Shohoku. Hilariously lampshaded when Sakuragi and Miyagi imagine him at class... as a gorilla with glasses. It's a plot point in the "gym fight" episodes, as he's stuck in an advanced class when Mitsui and his gang attempt to destroy the basketball team.
  • Fate Testarossa of Lyrical Nanoha is shown in side-materials to be this as a student. She gets perfect marks in nearly every subject (except for Japanese language) in school and being so good at math that she helps Nanoha's older sister with her math homework. On the other end, even without using her powers, she's second to only resident Passionate Sports Girl Suzuka in terms of athletics. The same is true for most practicing mages in the Nanohaverse: as explained in the A's manga, the series' Magitek basically relies on crunching numbers really fast in your head, while the constant channeling of Mana makes a mage's body superhumanly strong and durable. Fate does stand out even among mages, however, thanks to her natural diligence and studiousness.
  • Parodied with Miyu Edelfelt of Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA - on her first day in elementary school she uses high-school-level math to solve a geometry problem, while her attempt at the 50 meter dash smashes world records.
  • Sayumi Takanashi of When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is second best at studies in the school and has two black belts.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya is excellent at P.E. and does her homework effortlessly.
  • Shana of Shakugan no Shana fame is shown as being hypercompetent at both, which is in part justified by her being a superhuman.
  • Light Yagami in Death Note is the top-scoring student in the country, and also excels at sports (as shown by his tennis match with L).
  • Maruo Eiichiro in Baby Steps is the poster child for this. He's a straight-A student before he starts playing tennis and manages to keep his grades up during his very heavy training schedule. It even leaks into his style of play and he keeps maticulous notes of every point in all his matches.

     Comic Books  

  • Played for Laughs in Tintin, where Professor Calculus claims to be this. Haddock uses "complete athlete" (i.e., Dumb Jock) during one of his rants a short while after.


  • Andre in Necessary Roughness. He got into Texas State on a football/chemistry scholarship, and by his third year has nearly completed his PhD and is already teaching classes. He quit football to focus on academics his freshman year, but he steps up when the school's program is in danger and the team needs players. Other than the QB, he's the only one on the team who's ever played before
  • Zack in She's All That is both popular and the captain of the soccer team. When he hits on the unpopular art geek, she assumes he wants him to tutor her, and he responds that he has the fourth-highest GPA in the class.
  • Spoofed in The Comebacks, where the eponymous college football team is, to a man, on the Dean's list. Their coach, however, is upset upon hearing this, as it doesn't fit with the dumb, irresponsible jock stereotype. He encourages them to slack off and party more often.
  • This was done to Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, with Victor Fries described as a decathlete who won a Nobel Prize for his work in molecular biology. It was mostly because of them casting Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role.
  • The Winklevoss twins in The Social Network (also in real life). Erudite, Ivy League bluebloods who both manage to maintain straight A's at Harvard while training to row in the Olympics.
  • Played with in The Cabin in the Woods. Curt is both a football player and on a full academic scholarship. The Conspiracy more or less randomly turns him into the Dumb Jock and his teammate Truman into The Smart Guy, because they need people in those specific roles.
  • In the third installment of The Mighty Ducks, Coach Orion demands this of his players.
    "Eden Hall Academy requires you to maintain a "C" average to compete. I believe that's a bad rule. I don't want any "C" players on my team. It's B's or better or you're riding the pine pony.


  • Jess of Bridge to Terabithia thinks highly of Leslie Burke because she beat all the fifth grade boys in their race and she can impress teachers with her imaginative essays and ability to appear focused in class.
  • The Dear America book With The Might of Angels has Dawnie who has the highest grades in the elementary division of her school but more than anything she wants to be part of the All-American Girls Baseball League.
  • Kristin Amanda "Kristy" Thomas from The Baby-Sitters Club has the management skills to create the club and be its president. Her sport is softball and she even starts a kids' team. It's also mentioned that she consistently earns straight As.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Mikoto Misaka is better at academics than Touma (despite being a few years younger than him) and also highly athletic. Most of this is justified by Mikoto being a high-level esper, meaning she receives much better tuition than Touma and has limited Super Intelligence as a Required Secondary Power - in her spinoff series the presence of her classmates makes it far less notable.
  • Sally in Don't Call Me Ishmael! is the best in her year and a passionate football player. Scobie tries to be this, but his attempts at any kind of sport fail miserably.
  • T*A*C*K: Chuck is not only good at sports, but he's a decent student and even represents Sandy Harbor at the regional spelling bee.
  • Soccer Team KZ in Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note was chosen by Shumei Seminar to be a group of this. Much of the athlete part is already evident in the anime, but the first page of the novel already reminded the little readers that the KZ team's minimum academic requirement is... top 2.2%note . Since all the boys in the cast are current or former members of this team, they all fall into this trope.

     Live-Action TV  

  • Basketball star Mary Camden from 7th Heaven will occasionally tutor other characters.
  • Samantha "Sam" Kepler from Wishbone participates in every sport her male friends do and is picked for her class team captain spelling bee because she's always reading.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie will get dirty and play baseball as a child but at sixteen she becomes more elegant and gets her first teaching job.
  • Jane Vaughan of Degrassi is a skilled football player and the Valedictorian of her class. Her plan is to become a lawyer. This is also the same case for Katie, who is not only on the soccer team, but is in karate, the school newspaper, and is student council president.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Spencer Hastings and Emily Fields are both this —
    • Spencer's the "smart one" of their group, being one of the top students at their school and a potential captain of the academic decathalon team. For sports, Spencer field hockey, lacrosse and tennis.
    • Emily's the most athletic of the four, swimming being her main sport, and while she may not be as smart as Spencer, it's mentioned that she gets good grades.
  • Captain of the cheerleading squad on Glee, Quinn, is not just an award winning athlete but also maintains a 4.0 GPA while getting pregnant and giving birth to a girl, all while being an active member of the Glee club. She later continues maintaining said GPA after going through a car accident that left her temporarily handicapped, just so she can win homecoming queen. Broken Ace, anyone?
  • Jennifer Mosely (aka, "Moze") from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, is a Passionate Sports Girl with more athletic records than anyone in the history of James K. Polk Middle School, and a straight-A student.
  • On Liv and Maddie, this definitely applies to Maddie.
  • The OA: French is a star lacrosse player and has excellent grades. He's being courted for a full athletic scholarship. As the breadwinner of the family due to his mother's alcoholism, he doesn't have a choice but to succeed.

     Western Animation  

  • On Daria, Mack is a generally intelligent student, while the rest of the football team are all Dumb Jocks. Jodie's also on the tennis team, though you could be forgiven for missing that given all the other activities she's involved in.
  • Kim Possible, as part of her overachiever character design, excels at basically any physical challenge (especially anything related to cheerleading or martial arts) and has always consistently been a straight-A student.
  • Jennifer "Jen" Masterson from 6teen is said (and shown) to be a top athlete, soccer and winter sports being her favorites, and is mentioned as being a straight-A student at the school she and the main six attend. By contrast, Jonesy Garcia (her stepbrother) is more of Dumb Jerk Jock (although he's more "obnoxious" than "mean").

     Real Life  

  • New York 1, a major cable news channel in The Big Apple, offers a "Scholar Athlete of the Month Award" to one high-achieving high school student, in a praise-heavy featurette.
  • Truth in Television for how some well-educated American athletes appear to Europeans where sports is not typically tied to academics but often involves dropping out of school early to pursue one's sports career full-time.
    • A recent example is Myron Rolle, Rhodes Scholar recipient in 2008. He was an all-ACC defensive back for the Florida State Seminoles and was good enough to get drafted in the NFL in 2010. He is currently back at Florida State studying medicine.
    • On the other hand, this is an outright Enforced Trope in Europe; since college sports are considered a purely amateur affair that brings in negligible revenue for the institution, there's no incentive to give a brilliant athlete any leeway where academic performance is concerned like certain less reputable US colleges have been accused of.
    • This is also a Subverted Trope in Europe, especially amongst practitioners of individual sports. Many practitioners of individual sports (track and field, swimming, archery, skiing, cycling etc) do have an exit plan as they are aware their career will end someday. Many European athletes do study aside their sports career, and exit to academic career once they decide their sports career is over.
      • A few schools have a reputation for specifically being uncompromising. Probably the best-known example would be Stanford University, a member of the Pac-12, one of the five premier athletic conferences (and #2 all-time in NCAA championships won across allsports, behind UCLA), but also the "Harvard of the West" that demands high academic standards from all of its students, even the athletes. To a lesser degree, Duke University in North Carolina.
  • Pretty much all schools (middle schools, high schools and colleges) with sports teams require student athletes to have a certain GPA (usually around a C-average) in their classes to actually stay on the team—but the toughest coaches want more.
  • Dr. Benjamin Spock was an Olympic rower in 1924.
  • Ken Dryden. Drafted by the Bruins, had his rights traded due to his desire to attend college. Played hockey for four years at Cornell, won championships. Went to law school while playing in the minor leagues. Sat out a year in the "NHL" on a contract dispute, and did his law clerking instead. Played 8 seasons in the NHL around that and won 6 Stanley Cups as the goaltender for the powerhouse 70s Montreal Canadiens. Hall of Famer AND author of one of the best sports memoirs ever, "The Game". Later became a Member of the Canadian Parliament from 2004-2011.
  • Italian professional cyclist Domenico Pozzovivo has a PhD in economics.
  • Most students at military academies. They are Badass Bookworms in training, after all.
  • Former NBA star and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. The top pick in the 1965 NBA Draft, Bradley averaged over 30 points per game for Princeton University, but didn't immediately start his pro basketball career, as he attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. While never a colorful player with gaudy numbers in the pros, he was a key part of the New York Knicks' 1970 and 1973 championship teams and played over a decade in the NBA.
  • NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate and owner of a Badass Beard.
  • Former wrestler Chris(topher) Nowinski is the first Harvard alumnus to wrestle in the WWE, and his gimmick mainly revolved around his being such. He retired at the young age of 27 due to concussion-related issues, and is now a renowned expert on sports concussions.
  • Shaquille O'Neal was one of the great NBA players of his time. Then he went back to school and earned his bachelor's, then a doctorate in Education. This was partly owed to, as he described it, he burned through the first million dollars he ever made in roughly half an hour.
  • Finnish President Urho Kekkonen won Finnish championships in high jumping 1924. Many Finnish presidents have been notable sportsmen: Pehr Svinhufvud - shooting; C.G.E. Mannerheim - riding; Urho Kekkonen - high jump and skiing; Mauno Koivisto - volleyball; Martti Ahtisaari - basketball. All except Field Marshall Mannerheim did also hold academic degree.
  • Moe Berg was a baseball player who attended New York University and Princeton, studied seven languages (Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit), and worked for the US government as a spy during World War 2, doing missions in Japan and Europe