I lived in Lincoln, NE, about five blocks from UNL, and I worked for Gold's Gym, in Lincoln, for a while, too.
In my 39 years in the gym, I've found many athletes to be BRILLIANT people. Not all of them are dumb; not all are jive turkeys. Many do well at everything they pursue. It's the way they are wired.
In 2007, Congress commissioned a study on bodybuilders. What they found was not what they were expecting. What the GAO found was that not only did the meat heads make more money, were in better shape, were better informed as to health issues, lived longer, but, also that they were much more likely to be in positions of leadership because they were intellectual at nearly every level. The GAO presented that a "scare" campaign without a solid basis in truth (e.g. "Reefer Madness") would have zero to little deterrent effect on their usage patterns, and that it would be heard to make a compelling argument given the science of the day (and now) about the relative safety of the AAS users.
While many athletes look for an edge, they also are often the most informed, particularly those in middle age.
Ironically, just as in 1991, in 2008 / Bush years Congress listened to George Bush rather than the GAO, scientists, health care providers, and organizations, and went the wrong direction on this stuff, driving it further underground.
Many athletes have excellent critical thinking and observation skills....and listening skills (they are coachable), but, are also strong independent, and critical, thinkers.
I've met MANY collegiate scholarship athletes are way, way, far from being dumb.
Of course, not all programs in college the same high standards as UNL, and, granted, there are so true morons at the gym, but, those folks aren't usually the best. They're simply too stupid.
And, yes,.....exercise DOES improve your cognitive function. That's not a secret.