An Opinion on Playing Sports as a Motivation for Student Athletes to Perform Better in the Classroom

There stands a conflict on whether a student athlete’s academic achievement is affected as a result of participation in high school athletics. Some say that by playing sports, a students’ grades are affected due to their lack of time spend focusing on their schoolwork. I believe the opposite. I think playing sports pushes a student athlete to perform better in the classroom to impress their future coaches, present coaches, teachers, families, and peers. A survey was taken by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) found the television coverage of high school sporting events is increasing yet the academic achievement of student athletes is dropping (Gorman, 2010).

Another study taken by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and its members believe that high school sports promote citizenships and sportsmanship, along with many other positive characteristics (Case). Some people believe that school systems are throwing away money because they are spending in on the athletic department. When instead, the valuable money being used for student athletes can be used towards renovating the school or buying school supplies.

There is a creeping indifference toward the support of high school activity programs by the general public spreading across the world. The neglect of the people undermines the educational mission of the schools and the potential prosperity of the community. Many school board members believe that cutting out high school sports will save schools hundreds of dollars a year. This money can be used to renovate schools and buy school supplies.

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Majority of athletic programs are putting more money into sports rather than receiving money back. School systems are having few participants playing sports and benefiting from the experience. The school system could be using the money that they put into athletics and using it for something far more useful that would benefit students, teachers, classrooms, and improvement of school materials in general (Contribute).

Most athletes will tell you that being a student athlete is not easy. 61.4% of high school students that play or have played sports within the last year while still attending school will answer you. There are many pros and cons to being a student athlete. A student athlete learns many important life lessons than can help build them into a strong and smart character. Being a student athlete can also be a bad thing. It takes away from a lot of personal time and can cause a person a great deal of stress.

The negatives of a student athlete are numerous. However, these negativities are outweighed by the positives. If this wasn’t true, there would be no student athletes. Student athletes go through scrutiny that causes a great deal of stress. The feeling of stress is caused by underperformance on the field or in the classroom, lack of time with relationships, and the physical stress on the body (Strecker). Student athletes are role models, idols, and heroes. Just remember next time somebody tries saying a student athlete is dumb or an easy job, it isn’t. They undergo stressful situations just like anybody else does.

Although there are some negatives, time management is one of many good things learned from playing sports. Time management is a big thing to student athletes everywhere. If a student athlete does not manage their time well, their grades begin to drop. After grades begin to plummet, an athlete will start to worry more about their grades and less about their game. As a result of missed practices, social events begin to be missed because student athletes are spending their extra free time working on their homework to catch up. This becomes very aggravating. Relationships begin to break down due to stress. Social events are not only missed because of the homework, but because of dangerous substance abuse.

Alcohol to a student athlete is dangerous because if it results in breaking laws, the student can experience academic probation, which can then jeopardize their status on the team. A student athlete may feel isolated from the general student because of the requirement they have to fulfill to stay on top of their game and courses. This feeling of isolation can lead to promote skills to the student though. It can promote positive identity, strong character, responsibility, and self- acceptance. Time management can also be seen as not time wasted, but time used wisely. The student athlete has an inflexible schedule (Strecker).

Evidence shows that every student in high school goes through a time where their school work feels overwhelming and they undergo stress. Stress caused by academics on a student athlete is greater than the stress caused on a non-student athlete. Preconceptions from non-athletes are that student athletes are “jocks” and are found to be not as smart as a non-student athlete. This is definitely a misconception. Statistics can prove it. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) compared the graduation rates of student athletes to non-athletic students. Statistics revealed that student athletes are more likely to graduate than non-athletes. Student athletes are required to use their creativity and critical thinking abilities on a daily basis. Creativity is used through everyday practice while critical thinking is used through academic courses (Strecker).

Alcohol to a student athlete is dangerous because if it results in breaking laws, the student can experience academic probation, which can then jeopardize their status on the team. A student athlete may feel isolated from the general student because of the requirement they have to fulfill to stay on top of their game and courses. This feeling of isolation can lead to promote skills to the student though. It can promote positive identity, strong character, responsibility, and self- acceptance. Time management can also be seen as not time wasted, but time used wisely. The student athlete has an inflexible schedule (Strecker).

Evidence shows that every student in high school goes through a time where their school work feels overwhelming and they undergo stress. Stress caused by academics on a student athlete is greater than the stress caused on a non-student athlete. Preconceptions from non-athletes are that student athletes are “jocks” and are found to be not as smart as a non-student athlete. This is definitely a misconception. Statistics can prove it. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) compared the graduation rates of student athletes to non-athletic students. Statistics revealed that student athletes are more likely to graduate than non-athletes. Student athletes are required to use their creativity and critical thinking abilities on a daily basis. Creativity is used through everyday practice while critical thinking is used through academic courses (Strecker).

There is another negative side to being a student athlete. The negative being the numerous injuries that he/she faces throughout the season and off season Injuries are a key component of an athlete’s life. Sometimes the injuries can sideline them for weeks or be nagging injuries that affect them for the rest of their life (Strecker). One other negative side is you have no real freedom through the season. A student athletes schedule consists of school, practice, and games. There is no set time to hang out with friends or relax and spend time with your family. The time spent at practice or playing games takes away from time spent studying or doing homework.

There are many benefits of high school sports. Sports support the academic mission of schools. Sports are hardly any different than the courses taught in the classroom. They are merely just an extension of a good educational program. Students who participate in sports tend to have a higher grade-point average, better attendance records, lower dropout rates, and fewer discipline problems when compared to non- student athletes (Benefits).

A study taken by the Colorado High School Activities Association and the Colorado Department of Education revealed that high school students who participate in sports or some other form of interscholastic activity have significantly higher grade point averages. The study showed that 46% of uninvolved students fail one or more classes, which only 23% of the participating group failed one class. An older study taken in 1981 by the lowa High School Athlete Association showed that students not active in sports had a grade point average of 2.39 on a 4.0 scale.

Those active in a sport had a GPA of 2.61, while those active in two sports had a GPA of 2.82 (Benefits). Playing sports pushes the students to achieve greater. They want to impress their parents, coaches, teachers, and future coaches and professors. Fortune 500 companies indicated that 95% of their corporate executives participated in sports throughout high school (September, 1999). 54% of them were involved in student government, 43% in the National Honor Society, 37% in music, 35% in scouts, and 18% in the school’s publication (Benefits). This just leads to show how student athletes do contribute back to their school.

The average number of absences for student athletes was 6.3 days per 180-day school year. The average number of absences for non-student athletes was 11.9 days per 180-day school year. The percentage of discipline referrals by schools was lower for student athletes compared to non-student athletes. Student athletes discipline rates ran at a 33.3% while non-student athletes ran at 41.8%. The dropout rate of student athletes runs at 0.6%. Dropout rate for non-student athletes runs at 10.32%. The graduation rate percentage of student athlete is 99.4%.

The graduation rate percentage of non-student athletes is 93.51%. The statistics that were just listed show how great of a student that student-athletes actually are. Another study showed that students who don’t participate in sports or other extracurricular activities are 49% more likely to use drugs and 37% more likely to become teen parents than those who spend one to four hours a week in extracurricular activities (Case). Student athletes’ statistics are far greater than non-student athletes. These statistics help to show that they are more successful while still in high school and cause far less problems for the school system. The graduation rate for student athletes is also proof that shows their success rate.

A study that was taken in August of 2007 found that students who took part in sports did approximately 10% better in math, science, English, and social studies classes (August, 2008). The study also showed that student athletes scored higher in their college admission tests. A research project that was done in 2006 and published by the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement showed that 18-25 year olds who participated in sports through high school compared to those who didn’t participate are more likely to be engage in volunteering, registering to vote, and are more comfortable speaking in a public setting.

The study also indicated that 80% of those who participated in sports significantly, extensively or moderately complemented their career development or academic pursuits (Case).

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) believes that interscholastic sports promote citizenship and sportsmanship. They lead to a sense of pride in community, teach life longer lessons of teamwork and self-discipline. Other traits learned from participating in high school sports include winning and losing, the rewards of hard work, self-discipline, build self-confidence, and develop skills to handle competitive situations. Sports lead to success later on in life. They help prepare students for life in the real world. A study in 1989 taken by the Women’s Sport Foundation found that athletes do better in the classroom, are more involved in student activity programs, and stay involved in the community after graduation (Benefits).

A study taken in 1985 by the National Federation of State High School Associations sponsored a survey for high school principals in all 50 states. 95% of the principals that took the survey believed that participation in sports teaches valuable lessons to students that cannot be taught in the classroom setting. 99% admitted that student athletes promote citizenship. 95% said that activity programs contribute to the development of school spirit. 76% said they believe the demand made on students’ time by activities is not excessive. 72% said there is strong support for high school sports programs from parents and the community (Benefits).

Television exposure is no longer relegated to college and professional sports. Television coverage of high school sports are replacing college and professional sports games and news. The athletic exposure is resulting in high school sports becoming more like a business. Since high school sports are becoming a business, schools are building stadiums worth millions of dollars and student athletes are being passed through class with ease according to some. The concern regarding academic achieve of student athletes is an indication of educational reforms.

Public education underwent comprehensive national reforms aimed at producing numerical gains in student achievement. High school students who express a desire to play college sports must achieve a minimum ACT score and meet the GPA requirement. If student athletes are not performing the best that they can, it can affect their graduation and a high schools’ Adequate Yearly Process (AYP) measurement (Gorman).

The urgency of addressing and correcting the problem of academic and athletic imbalances in high schools is being missed (Gorman). Some people are saying that high school athletics are negatively impacting the achievement of students. The student-athlete eligibility requirements are not adequate. A discrepancy exists between athletic success and academic achievement.

Student athletes are financially and academically exploited by schools and committees. Schools are responsible to the financial rewards of sporting and events and demonstrating academic neglect for student athlete academic achievement. Parents are relying on an athletic scholarship for their student athlete rather than worrying about paying for their child’s tuition themselves. The expectations of community members and booster clubs to produce winning programs are contributing to the exploitation of student athletes.

Salaries for coaches and schools unsuccessful management of funds is leading to schools being in debt because their spending too much money on the athletic department. The pressure student athletes are enduring from community members, family members, and friends is causing student athletes to put more emphasis on the athlete part of the term student athlete. The pressure to win gives rise to lower academic expectation for student athletes.

Supporters of high school athletics are arguing against the negative effect of athletic participation on academic achievement. The non-supporters on the other hand are stating high school athletic programs are supplementing the academic experience (Gorman). The unethical recruitment of student athletes and the excessive inducements provided to student athletes are negatively impacting high school’s academic mission. In many communities, unfortunately, many community high schools athletics are becoming more important than academics.

Parents of student athletes are saying their child is equally balancing the term student athlete. Their child is performing better than the average student in the classroom while maintaining a lead position in the sports they are participating in. Their child is learning four critical lessons from playing a sport. They consist of understanding commitment, defining success, setting and achieving goals, and overcoming obstacles (Carlson).

No matter how long an athlete plays sports, there are days when they wish they were anywhere else besides in practice or playing a game. Student athletes learn how to push past these days and perform despite low motivation. Same goes for the classroom. There are many days when a student doesn’t want to attend school or do their homework. A student has to push thru that low motivation time and strive for success. Athletic success is often defined as wins vs. losses. An experienced athlete would define success by goals of personal performance standards or team performance standards, not just as winning.

As a student athlete, a student must always give their best when taking a test or exam. Their grades are very important. Most goals of an athlete would consist of setting a goal to win as many games as they can for the season. Long term goals, short term goals, daily goals, performance goals, and outcome goals are part of the plan for a student athlete. Setting these types of goals for a student is very important also. Long term goals would be to graduate high school and possibly continue being an athlete. Short term goals would be to have their homework due before the due date. Daily goals would consist of arriving to school and class on time, instead of being tardy.

Performance goals might consist of doing the best they can on a class project. Outcome goals may consist of graduating in the top 10% of their class. Life will throw us curve balls that we have no choice but to deal with. Getting through the daily struggle of training, competing, and fine tuning skills and performance teaches an athlete a great deal. The struggles faced by athletes would include injuries, questionable coaching, difficult teammates, and bad calls by refs, getting cut from the team, low motivation and high expectations. Being tough and getting through the struggles leads to make a great athlete. Being a student, you go through struggles also.

Being paired with a lazy lab partner, finding out you have a test next class, and realizing you missed the deadline for the homework that was due yesterday are some obstacles faced by students. Overcoming obstacles is most definitely not fun. Fortunately these obstacles are loaded with life lessons. These conclusions which the author discusses in, “The Case for High School Athletics and Activities,” adds weight to the argument that being a student athlete helps the student in the classroom and athlete on the field/court (September).

The obsessions with varsity sports came about after World War II. The United States became a super-power and the intensity and seriousness of sports reflected our world power status. With this occurring, it led to the belief that athletics contribute positively to the educational experience of students. With recent economic problems, there is a growing demand to make budget cuts on many aspects of life, which include sports (Contribute).

The argument that sports don’t contribute to the educational process is a tough one that has taken tout to the current economy downfall of the American economy. These arguments are important because they are valid and are showing the problem of connecting schools and sports environment into one.

Playing sports through high school was a great experience in my opinion. I graduated with a GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale. I was in the top 20% of my class. I won basketball sectionals for my school my senior year by hitting the game winning free- throw shot under a great amount of pressure. I was put under a great amount of stress not only on the court, but mainly in the classroom. I was not treated any differently than the other students in the classroom. I had deadlines to meet every week in class.

Homework and quizzes weren’t delayed due to having a game the night before. There was not time taken out from practice to just work on homework. I attended school 5 out of 7 days a week while having basketball practice and games 6 out of 7 days a week. I gave up my Friday and Saturday nights with friends to focus on my school work. I was taught many life lessons that I would have never been taught in the classroom. The basketball team was like a family to me and the school became my home.

I spent majority of my time in the school building, rather it be in the classroom or in the gym. I don’t regret being a student athlete. Sometimes I questioned myself rather I could have had better grades if I hadn’t played sports. But then I thought back to all the fun and exciting times I had with my teammates. Being a student athlete made me who I am today, a strong, independent young woman with big goals that I have set for myself and plan to achieve. I have many obstacles in my way and a long way to go, but I know if I push myself hard enough, I can make it.

Being a student athlete isn’t easy. You have to maintain each side of that term equally. There are people that argue saying one side is focused on more than the other. There stands a confliction on whether a student athlete’s academic achievement is affected as a result of participation in high school athletics. There are many pros and cons of a student athlete. A student athlete can be a good thing because it teaches you many life lessons that cannot be earned in the classroom setting. A student athlete can also be a bad thing. A lot of sacrifices must be made and a lot of injuries can come from it. 

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An Opinion on Playing Sports as a Motivation for Student Athletes to Perform Better in the Classroom. (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/an-opinion-on-playing-sports-as-a-motivation-for-student-athletes-to-perform-better-in-the-classroom/

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