Bettering Youth Now and for the Future

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Bettering Youth Now and for the Future
High school can be a challenging and changing experience for adolescents. It is a time of not only intellectual growth, but also a period in a young person’s life that helps to shape and determine their path for their future. Many students are making decisions about what colleges to go to and even attempting to tackle the huge task of figuring out what career they might possibly pursue. This can add even more pressure on top of the social and academic pressures that come with being a high school student. Though high school can be an exciting time full of great experiences, it is also the place where many students take the wrong path. Some may gain new friends that negatively influence them in their behavior. Others may see their social lives as a priority over their school work or, just the opposite, have difficulty adjusting to high school and fitting in. All could greatly impact not only the student’s high school career, but also their future as well. Being a part of an athletic team is a way to ensure success in both areas. Participating in high school athletics not only improves a student’s overall academic performance, but also has beneficial effects beyond their high school education.

When we refer to students who are members of an athletic team in high school, most of the time we call them student-athletes. Most everyone would agree that academics should come first and participation in sports should come second. This is why athletic programs have eligibility requirements, grade parameters being one of them (“Sports Participation”). Because many high schools require their athletes to maintain certain letter grades for their classes or a specific grade point average, students not only have to focus on their athletic performance, but their academic performance as well. Though it would not be an uncommon belief that students’ grades could suffer due to sports participation, juggling both the demands academics as well as athletics, a three-year academic study done by Dr. Roger Whitley for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association seems to prove otherwise. The study showed that the mean grade point average of those who were athletes was a 2.86, while the mean grade point average of non-athletes was 1.96 (Whitley). From that comparison, it can be concluded that playing sports can have a very positive effect on high school students’ education. Whether this effect can be credited to the academic requirements placed on athletic participation and the students’ desire to be eligible to play or if it is simply the matter of students learning how to be responsible after taking on the responsibilities of both school and sports, it isn’t important. Academic success in high school is crucial for a successful future and being a student-athlete is beneficial in this way.

Sports participation not only demands an academic commitment, but also a time commitment as well. It is because of this that high school athletes have better attendance, lower dropout rates, and fewer discipline problems than their peers. It is a simple fact that if you want to be a member of a sports team in high school, you have to attend class. Sports can be motivators for students to be at school when at all possible. School systems, is most cases, require student-athletes to be counted present for the school day in order for them to be able to attend a sports team practice. On top of this, many coaches will not let a student start or sometime even participate in an athletic event if he or she has missed practice the week of the event. This is why athletes average missing over one week less of school each year than students who do not play sports. The average number of days missed by athletes is 6.52 days in a 180-day school year, compared to 12.57 days for non-athletes (Whitley). Being a member of a sports team is commitment that requires hard work and dedication. Part of that dedication is...
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