No pass, no play has been a part of Texas high school football since 1985. During that time, Ross Perot spearheaded a campaign to require higher standards for athletic participation. According to the state law, students must have a passing grade in each class during the grading period they are attempting to participate in the extracurricular activity in order to be eligible to participate. Although the state of Texas was the first to initiate the academic standards, most states quickly followed behind passing similar “no pass / no play” rules. The passing of this law has created controversy since its inception. Many educators, lawmakers, and members of the community support the law; however, some community members, coaches, and family members of athletes have expressed great disdain for the law and the effects it has on the possibility of a high school athlete pursuing a professional career in athletics. The requirement to pass classes in order to participate in athletics has also become a part of the NCAA. The NCAA sets eligibility standards for athletes that are interested in participating in extracurricular activities at the collegiate level. In 1986, Proposition 48 mandated that high school students maintain a minimum GPA, SAT and/or ACT score in order to practice or compete during their freshman college year. Students that did not meet the minimum requirements were required to demonstrate that they could meet those requirements before being allowed to participate in any activities or face losing their college scholarship (Putnam, 1999). In 1995, Proposition 16 was made more restrictive than Proposition 48. The minimum GPA, SAT and/or SAT requirements were increased under Proposition 16 and thus drastically affected the number students eligible to play in the NCAA.
Role of Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities have played an important role in the life of our school district. These activities traditionally promote consistent social behaviors, confidence, mental, and physical sharpening and possibly improved academic achievement and focus. Through these activities, students develop an appreciation for their own health and fitness as well as the skills that are necessary to become active citizens (Zepeda and Langenbach, 1999). Extracurricular activities have developed leadership and social connections that have often tied a student to the mission and beliefs of our school for a lifetime. Often, alumni give back to the school based on the school’s extracurricular success not on its academic success. Although, the activity itself does not often lead to a professional career in that activity, it still provides students with the skills for future success while stimulating their ability to visualize and hope for a brighter future. Low income students that would otherwise be discouraged by their predicament are inspired by the possibility of using the skills developed during our extracurricular activities to create a better adult life for themselves. The social and emotional development of students plays a tremendous role in their ability to achieve academically. A positive self-perception in one area, for example, is strongly connected to a student’s ability to perform successfully in unrelated areas. Students that believe they are capable of excelling in non-academic arenas are more prone to attempt to excel in academic areas (VII). Research has not been able to conclude whether or not extracurricular activities truly have an impact on academic achievement. However, the “no pass / no play” law clearly reflects the priority of academic success of our state over the benefits of participating in non-academic activities.
Positive Impacts of “No Pass/No Play”
Extracurricular activities in our school district are most often viewed as “extra”. This means that they are not part of the standard curriculum. Schools and students view activities that are not part of...