The article in the Feb. 8, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated is excerpted from the book This is Your Brain on Sports by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers. The excerpt, which looks at the question of whether quarterbacks are the best-looking players, refers to research VanGilder conducted analyzing the facial symmetry of NFL players.
The article notes that “researchers found that the more symmetrical a QB’s face was, the more money he made. These findings are consistent with results in domains outside of sports. Attractive employees tend to earn more than their less attractive colleagues in a variety of professions. ‘Socially, we’ve been trained to think that the quarterback is the most beautiful person on the team,’ Jennifer VanGilder, one of the study’s authors, told The Wall Street Journal.”
An article in Fall 2011 Ursinus Magazine described the research Van Gilder conducted with David Berri, an associate professor of economics at Southern Utah University. Using software called Symmeter, they analyzed photos of quarterbacks and generated an attractiveness rating from zero to 100. While the average person measures in the high 80s to low 90s, all NFL quarterbacks measured in the high 90s.
“Most of the top athletes are more attractive than the average person,” VanGilder said. “But the quarterbacks are freakishly attractive. They ranked in the highest 98 percent.”
In her ongoing research, VanGilder has worked with a dozen Ursinus students in evaluating the impact facial features have on athletes’ salaries.