Shane Never Warned Us

Why Athletics is important in School

Why Athletics is important in School?

Athletics Programs are a vital important part of education, no matter the grade level. Athletics have come to play a major role in the life of high schools and universities across the globe. For several generations, athletics and education have been identified with each other, with the result that sports culture has become embedded within academic culture on many levels. Traditionally, participation in sports was said to make boys into men and help them appreciate teamwork, duty, sacrifice and dedication. Sports built character, and engendered the values of good sportsmanship in young men. As a result of this tradition, a number of researchers have argued that “organized sports can play a beneficial role in the development of children into educated and well-rounded students. One routinely hears, from podiums and in official school statements, that “high school athletics can have a profound influence on our youth, our schools, and our communities”

The promotion of sports as a path toward maturity was supported by studies that have found that “participation in extracurricular activities, affect academic performance, attachment to school and social development” among high school students. Participation in sports and related physical education activities “provide opportunities for students to learn the values of teamwork and the opportunity to apply academic skills in other arenas as part of a well-rounded education” As a result of studies and beliefs like these, high school sports have become a pervasive and powerful presence in most major high school life. In the context of the era of accountability and standardized testing, however, a new scrutiny has been brought to high school sports. Griffith (2004) argued that “there is remarkably little research on the interplay of sports and academic achievement”. In other words, research continues to struggle to empirically prove what has been a basic tenet of the rhetoric surrounding sports for years, that participation in sports improves such non-cognitive areas of personal growth as self-motivation and thus may (or may not) have a positive impact on academics as well.

In a recent case, a number of star student athletes at a California university had to choose between competing in a track and field event and participating in their own graduation ceremonies. Many of the athletes chose to attend their graduation, mainly on the grounds that it is a once-only event and that they wanted to share this moment with parents and friends. Nonetheless, the administration of the university recommended that the student-athletes compete at the meet, and miss graduation. The fact that the school would put student-athletes in the position of having to make such a choice indicates how wrong-headed current policy has become vis-à-vis the relationships between sports and academics.

The primary conceptual problem facing student-athletes is whether or not sports, as an activity, has a positive impact on other endeavours in life, including academics. At present, researchers have looked for both indirect and direct connections. Indirect connections consist of ways in which sports improve various non-cognitive aspects of an athlete’s personality—self-esteem, motivation—and how that improvement in turn leads to better academic achievement. Direct connections consist of ways in which competition in sports helps student-athletes actually perform better in such similarly competitive events as academic tests and courses. In both cases, the problem remains how to build a construct that allows one to envision how impact is felt across the supposed gap between mind and body.

High schools need to develop a more ecological model of student behaviour in order to build a physical environment that will contribute to, instead of inhibit, routine physical activity during a school day.The climate of accountability that has emerged since the passage of No Child Left Behind appears to have further eroded focus on the whole, including the physical student. As schools work to become more “successful” according to test-score standards, many of them have cut back on such courses as arts and physical education. With the back-to-basics movement, many schools have cut back on such non-core subjects. Moreover, teachers are “reverting to direct instruction, drill and ‘teaching to the test’” in classrooms around the country. In this context, a number of educators argue that spending more time on core subjects and drilling for the test will lead to better test scores. However, Wilkins & Graham, (2003) compared the test scores of schools with the amount of time they allocated to noncore subjects such as physical education, and found that “the relationship between time in (core) areas and achievement was, for the most part, statistically null”. There was also some indication that schools that maintained at least one hour of physical education per day did better on tests—an indirect finding that some attention to the whole student may in fact contribute to improved academic outcomes.

Further, it has been found that the benefits of participation in sports applied to both males and females. The author studied high school student-athletes with respect to their academic performance and dropout rates. The author found that high school boys performed better in school due to the fact that participating in athletics increased their desire to attend college.

Therefore, going forward it is absolutely very important to make sure that a school not only provide the kids with athletics program but to have a decent infrastructure as well so that it can be implemented at a professional level.