Today’s high school systems experience pressure from all sides. Curriculum changes, technological advances, personnel shifts, and funding uncertainties obstruct the educational landscape and can obscure the fundamental needs of our country’s youth that our educational system was built to meet. However, while classroom time is vital to our students’ success, we must remember that the experience of the classroom setting alone doesn’t develop the well-rounded character and fortitude necessary for an individual to succeed in this changing world.
Extracurricular activities that provide environments beyond the classroom in which our students can grow and develop are vital to their success, and no extracurricular opportunity available to our students today can match the proven benefits that involvement in interscholastic athletics provides.
Athletics By the Numbers
The opportunity to participate in interscholastic competition can have a dramatic effect on a child’s development. Athletics foster important character traits such as work ethic, perseverance, preparation, commitment, interpersonal skills. Participation in athletics also allows for benefits like physical fitness and the development of communication skills and social relationships. The following paragraphs highlight a few facts and figures about specific ways that participating in interscholastic athletic programs can benefit students.
Athletics Foster Academic Success
Athletics provide an incentive for students to apply themselves to their academic studies. It also provides positive role models in the form of older athletes and coaching staff who can encourage them in their educational efforts. In addition to the practical reasons that athletes perform better in the classroom including eligibility and accountability structures within their sport to remain diligent in their studies, athletic participation itself helps instill values that translate into better academic performance. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has found that young people grow by learning the values of healthy competition, teamwork, goal setting, respect, and hard work. The educational experiences of all participants are enhanced through these values, as everyone strives to be their best as individuals, students, teammates, and members of the community, rather than just as athletes.
Athletics Predict Future Success
Participation in athletics can serve as an excellent indicator of a student’s future accomplishment. According to research conducted by the University of Chicago, by a 2-to-1 margin for males and a 3-to-1 margin for females, student-athletes do better in school, do not drop out, and have a better chance to graduate from college. These findings are widespread. According to an independent study by the Women’s Sports Foundation, female high school athletes are 92% less likely to get involved with drugs, 80% less likely to get pregnant and are 3 times more likely to graduate than non-athletes. This research suggests that participating in athletics can greatly increase the chances of a student’s success by instilling in them the qualities and skills necessary to achieve their goals.
Athletics Provide Better Quality of Life
Beyond the academic rigors of high school and college, the long-term results of athletic participation have proven to be far-reaching. Athletics not only prepare students for classroom success through their high school and college careers but help them develop the skills they will need to succeed in all areas of life.
Though the possible detriments of high school athletics have been brought to light in recent discussions across the country because of heightening pressure and shifts in priorities away from personal development and academic preparation and towards skill development and college recruitment opportunities, it cannot be argued that high school athletics provide students with unparalleled opportunities for personal development that can have life-changing impacts on their futures. Preservation of this vital opportunity will allow students everywhere to continue gaining life skills that remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Visit Ohio University’s Master of Athletic Administration for information on preparing you to excel in the demanding field of interscholastic athletic administration, while also preparing you for National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) certification.
NY Times, “High School Athletes Gain Lifetime Benefits”
Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management Cornell University, “Anticipated and Persistent Correlates of Participation in High School Athletics”
Huntington Public School, “Benefits of an Interscholastic Athletic Program”
Massachusetts Interscholastic Atheltic Association, ” Why Education-Based Athletics?”