Maybe "dumb jocks" aren't really dumb....
....but rather they are haunted by the fact that you might think they are dumb. No, really! It says pretty much that in a new NBER working paper (ungated version here) by Thomas Dee.
The paper employs the concept of a stereotype threat:
"Stereotype threat refers to the perceived risk of confi rming, through one's behav-
ior or outcomes, negative stereotypes that are held about one's social identity.
More specifi cally, its key conjecture is that the threat of being viewed through
the lens of a negative stereotype can create an anxiety that disrupts cognitive
performance and influences outcomes and behaviors"
Yes, I believe this can happen especially with respect to race and gender, but with football players??
However, Dee presents experimental results where student athletes who were reminded that they are indeed student athletes before taking a test do worse than those who were not so reminded:
"The key results from estimating this model are reported in Table 4. The full-
sample results indicate that the unique effect of the treatment on athletes (i.e.,
the estimate of ) on athletes was uniformly negative and implied reductions
in test performance ranging from 7.3 to 9.5 percentage points."