Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Sports and Athletics

I am sure many people consider sports and athletics extracurricular activities with little to no effect on schools or learning. I, for one, disagree! Education is about preparing students to be successful — not just in school — but in life. What students can learn by participating in sports programs will have lasting effects.

A recent survey conducted by the Minnesota State High School League found that the average GPA of a high school athlete was 2.84, while a student who was not involved in athletics had an average GPA of 2.68. The survey also showed that student athletes missed less school than their non-athlete counterparts. Other studies show a correlation between participation in sports/athletics and fewer discipline referrals and a lowered drop-out rate.

We should also consider the intangibles, like the development of leadership, social and communication skills, or the benefits of teamwork and cooperation. Leadership skills are a necessity if we expect to advance in our personal or professional lives.

According to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), when being considered for a job, intrapersonal skills trump education and even experience in the field. These are skills that must be learned by members of a team. Team members must work cooperatively to achieve a common goal.

Students involved in athletics are forced to learn time-management skills and encouraged to find a balance between school and sports (work and play). Concepts that will hold true for students now and later in life.

We should not overlook the health and psychological benefits of exercise and sports. Studies show that exercise has a positive influence on depression, self-worth and physical self-perception. They also show that exercise is an essential part of good mental health. When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, athletes learn that good nutrition and regular physical activity are a necessity for success.

And how about the community-building aspect? There is nothing like Friday night football to bring a community together.

Funding is not what it used to be for most schools and sports programs. Being an “educated” person means being a well-rounded person. We must instill the value of hard work, self-discipline, time management, cooperation, teamwork and commitment in our students. Participation on a team can do that!

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.

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