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Many studies have been done regarding the positive impact that athletics has on a student’s life. Studies have looked at the physical impact that athletics has on a student’s life like sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle, discipline, strategy, and time management. We will be looking at studies that have explored the impact that athletics has on students’ academic abilities. Academic success can be measured in many ways but we will explore grade point averages, math and English test scores, and graduation success rates to show the positive impact athletics has on a student’s academic abilities.
Participating in athletics offers students the opportunity to learn valuable lessons they can use for the rest of their lives. Some lessons include teamwork, self-esteem, perseverance, discipline, time management, and healthy living. However, these lessons are not the only lessons a student learns. Students also learn lessons that carry over into the classroom and have a positive impact on academic achievement. These lessons include increased memory, diligence, time management, and memory capacity which can be supported by scientist that have researched the impact of physical activity on the brain.
These studies have concluded that exercise causes “neurogenesis”, the process of growing cells in the brain therefore, increasing memory and learning capacities (Blaydes, 2011). The National Federation of State High School Associations in their 2008, “The Case for High School Activities” article shows that the return on investment on athletic programs and other extracurricular activities is very high.
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“At a cost of only one to three percent (or less in many cases) of an overall school’s budget, high school activity programs are one of the best bargins around.
It is in these vital programs – sports, music, speech, drama, debate – where young people learn lifelong lessons as that compliment the academic lessons taught in the classroom” (p. 1) Students who participate in athletics will experience greater academic success than students who do not participate in athletics. Using various research studies I will support this hypothesis by detailing the correlations between academic achievement and athletic participation. Students who participate in athletics have higher grade point averages (GPA), higher Math and English scores, and obtain higher levels of graduation rates and continue on to higher education.
Grade Point Averages of athletes vs. non-athletes
One of the measurements of academic success is grade point averages. High grade point averages indicate one’s diligence, perseverance and desire to succeed. Students who participate in athletics have higher GPA’s than students who do not participate in athletics. The 2002 study conducted by Schaben and Stevens of middle school students showed that students who participated in athletics had an average GPA of 3.15 compared to nonathletic students which carried an average GPA of 2.4 (p. 38). Another study of high school students by Stegman and Stephens (2000) found that both male and female students that had low athletic participation carried lower GPA’s.
Male students in the 12th grade that did not participate in athletics carried an average GPA of 3.04 compared to 3.18 of male 12th graders that did participate. Female students in the 12th grade that did not participate in athletics carried an average GPA of 3.28 compared to 3.62 of female 12th grades that did participate (p. 3). Athletic participation directly impacts grade point averages of students that participate; therefore, students who participate in athletics have more academic success than students who do not participate in athletics. Math and English scores of athletes vs. non-athletes
High math scores indicate academic success because it shows a student’s ability for problem solving, logical thinking and calculations. High English scores indicate academic success in students by way of writing abilities and communication abilities. Students who participate in athletics have higher Math and English grades than students who do not participate in athletics. Students who participated in athletics were found to have an average final grade of 74.5 in Math and 74.6 in English.
Students that did not participate in athletics were found to have an average final grade of 715 in Math and 70.3 in English (Zaugg, 1998, p. 68). A North Carolina High School study of students who participate in athletics found that students who did not participate in athletics had an average Math grade of 57.9 and 50.8 for English compared to those students who did participate that had an average Math grade of 66.1 and 61.4 in English (2001, NCHSAA Bulletin, p. 2). Studies have consistently shown that participation in athletics directly impacts a student’s scores in Math and English to be higher than students that do not participate in athletics.
Graduation Rates of athletes vs. non-athletes
Students who participate in athletics have higher graduation rates and continue on to higher learning more often than students who do not participate in athletics. This is an academic success indicator because the athletic student is graduation and continuing on in their academic success in college. The National Center for Education Statistics followed high school athletes 8 years after graduation and found that elite athletes and varsity athletes are more than 1.70 times more likely to have postsecondary education (2005, Carlson, Planty, Scott, and Thompson, p. 11). Male students who do not participate in athletics are 4% less likely to obtain a college degree than those males students who did participate in athletics. There was a similar correlation between female non-athletes and female athletes (2001, Caudill and Long, p.529). Athletic students have a higher graduation rate than non-athletic students and athletic students continue on to higher education more often than non-athletic students.
Objection of higher academic success in athletes
One objection to the impact that athletics has on academics success is a study showing that non-athletes have higher ACT/SAT scores. In the 1997 Chronicle of Education article by Jim Naughton, students that did not participate in athletics had higher ACT scores (average 21+) than students who did participate in athletics (average of 19) (p. A44). In the study of high school seniors in Eastern Tennessee (2010, Gorman, p. 80) recorded no significant difference in ACT scores between participating and non-participating students. This objection disputes the findings that athletes have more academic success than non-athletes.
As the studies have shown, the impact of athletics isn’t just physical. “Interscholastic sports also promote life skills and lessons and enhance academic performance” (Lumpkin & Stokowski, 2011). Those lessons carry over in the classroom and boost grade point averages, as well as the scores of Math and English. It has been found that athletic students have a higher frequency of graduation and continue on to higher education than non-athletic students. Students who participate in athletics have more academic success than students who do not participate in athletics.
Barber, B. L., Eccles, J. S. & Stone, M. R. (2001). Whatever happened to the Jock, the Brain, and the Princess? : Young adult pathways linked to adolescent activity involvement and social identity. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16, 429-455. doi: 10.1177/0743558401165002 Blaydes, J. (2011, Fall). How to make learning a moving experience. Seen Magazine, 13(2), 78-79. Carlson, D., Planty, M., Scott, L., & Thompson, J. (2005). Statistics in Brief: What is the status of high school athletes 8 years after their senior year? (NCES 2005303). Retrieved from the National Center for Education Statistics website http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/nels88/ Caudill, S. B. & Long, J. E. (1991, August). The impact of participation in intercollegiate athletics on income and graduation. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 73(3), 525-531. Gorman, D. A. (2010). The effect of athletic participation on academic achievement for high school seniors in Eastern Tennessee (Doctorial dissertation). Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. Lumpkin, A. & Stokowski, S. (2011, Spring). Interscholastic sports: A character-building privilege. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(3), 124-8. National Federation of State High School Associations. (2008). The case for high school activities. (NFHS Report). Retrieved from Oregon School Activities Association website: www.osaa.org/osaainfo/08CaseForHSActivities.pdf Naughton, J. (1997). Athletes on top-ranked teams lack grades and test scores of other students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 43(46), 43-44. Schaben, L. A. & Stephens, L. J. (2000, February). The effect of interscholastic sports participation
on academic achievements of middle level school students. NASSP Bulletin, 86(34), 34-41. doi: 10.1177/019263650208663005 Stegman, M. & Stephens, L. J. (2000). Athletics and academics: are they compatible? High School Magazine, 7(6), 36-9. Unknown. (2001, Fall). High school athletes outperform nonathletes again by wide margins in massive statewide academic study. North Carolina High School Athletic Association Bulletin, 54(1), 2. Zaugg, H. (1998). Academic comparison of athletes and non-athletes in a rural high school. NASSP Bulletin, 82, 63-72. doi: 10.1177/019263659808259910
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