College and high school sports’, contributing to the educational process is a highly debated topic. There are many aspects of sports in school, that do contribute to the educational process and others argue, that there are many aspects that do not. While there is some validity in both sides of the discussion, it really comes down to how the sports program is run at a particular school. Some schools are more interested in the sports programs doing well rather than the academic achievements of their athletes. Other schools try to maintain a good balance between the sports performance and the athletes’ academic achievement. For the schools that appear to favor winning the sports seasons and championships, emphasis is placed upon keeping the athletes in the game over their grade point averages. While the schools who try to maintain a balance, help to keep the athletes’ academic performance in good standing, often at the cost of the sports team’s winning streak. It is a difficult situation, with many complex variables. The goals and influence of the school’s leadership, ultimately determines the positive or negative impact, of sports on the educational process (Coakley, 2015).
One of the big differences between American schools and other foreign schools abroad is the emphasis on sports, at the high school and college levels. Many foreign students, who move to the United States, immediately notice the importance placed upon sports in school. It is noticed because it is such a big deal in American schools and it isn’t emphasized by most schools, in other countries. In other countries, schools place emphasis on academics and the international test scores reflect this difference. When international research and surveys are published, they frequently show the United States lagging far behind other countries, in topics like math and science. Some argue that the schools in other countries are doing it right and the United States isn’t, with its preference for sport emphasis. Budget issues are also frequently associated with the sports in school argument. Some schools who had to make tough budget decisions, tried to cut their sports programs. When schools cut sports programs, there was great public outcry and debate. One thing that occurred in many schools was that when the sports programs were canceled, academic achievement and grades went up. There was also a decrease in bad behavior and disciplinary actions. Many think that this proves the point that school is for learning and not sports. Numerous schools that cut sports programs eventually caved in to the pressure, and restarted their sports programs with new parameters in place (Ripley, 2013).
While it has been shown statistically, that American emphasis on sports in school has a price that is paid in academic achievement, some feel that it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Leadership and management in the schools can find ways to balance sports and academics so that both receive fair attention. Different programs and guidelines have been implemented in various schools, which set standards for academics and sport participation. If a student in these schools wishes to participate in sports, an academic standard or grade point average must be maintained. If the student’s grade point average drops below the standard, then they cannot participate in sports until the academic requirements have been met. These types of programs have met with varying degrees of success. Many student athletes have demonstrated that it is possible to succeed in sports and academics at the same time. Many universities have adopted these types of programs and there has been involvement by collegiate organizations, such as the NCAA, to help promote these guidelines (Shortell, 2013).
The argument for sports in school has many valid points as well. While the struggle between athletics and academics is true and ongoing, canceling sports programs can adversely affect students in many ways. Sports have always been touted to teach sportsmanship, competitiveness, team work and discipline. Some consider this a unique educational aspect of American schools. It has been shown that students who were athletes in high school and college had a high probability to be more successful in the professional workplace. Many employers look specifically for sports participation at high school and college level, when screening applications of potential employees. Some argue that great scores in math and science may not benefit a student in the future workplace when compared to the drive, discipline, team work and competitiveness of a former athlete. The situation and variables related to the job, matter a lot in these instances. Overall, many feel that the qualities that a student athlete develops, through sports in school, is a unique and important factor that academics alone, cannot replace. While a balance between academics and sports seems to be an optimal answer, the influence of sports in American schools is here to stay, barring any dramatic change in future society and culture (Sato, 2013).
Coakley, J. (2015). Sports in society: Issues and controversies (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Ripley, A. (2013). The Case Against High-School Sports. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/10/the-case-against-high-school-sports/309447/
Shortell, E. (2013). Sports vs. Education: A False Choice. Harvard Political Review. Retrieved from http://harvardpolitics.com/united-states/sports-vs-education-false-choice/
Sato, K. (2013). The Case For High School Sports. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kai-sato/high-school-sports_b_3997391.html
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