If you could offer high school students a vehicle that would improve their citizenship, sportsmanship, GPAs, self-discipline and physical and emotional wellness, you would high-jump at the chance, right?
Well, that’s exactly what interscholastic sports offer our nation’s 11 million youth who participate in these programs, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Consider the following 7 reasons why high school athletics can be a chassis to greatness.
Prepare for the future
Research shows that people who play high school sports get better jobs with better pay, reports The New York Times. The lessons learned in athletics, combined with the knowledge that student-athletes must do well in school to participate, motivates their persistence and drive for success.
"Sports teach students life skills," shared Shawn Brown, football head coach of Academy at the Lakes (AATL) high school. In November 2017, his football team competed for its second state championship in school history against Old Plank and won.
"We teach them to be committed, reliable and dependable. They must work to get results," Coach Brown went on. "It helps get them ready to work hard at their future jobs."
Teach collaboration and teamwork
Sports in school teach student athletes how to collaborate and how to operate separately but together — an essential skill for the competitive workplace they will one day serve. Team play teaches that one is strong, but together everyone is stronger.
While some may worry that time away from studies will adversely affect student GPAs, the NFHS found that the average GPA of a high school athlete was 2.84, while a student who doesn't participate in sports had an average GPA of 2.68.
Student athletes are encouraged by their teammates and coaches to succeed. They develop a competitive nature both on the field and in the classroom. "75 percent of our kids participate in sports," said Tom Haslam, athletic director at AATL. "99 percent of them go to college." Not only that but of those who participate in sports at AATL, 18 percent get college athletic scholarships.
"Sports helped me develop a work ethic," said AATL senior Daniel Gonzalez, who received the Most Valuable Player award at the recent state championship. He said before he started doing sports, he'd go home and be lazy after school. Once he joined the athletics program, however, he said he felt much more motivated to succeed.
Expand leadership skills
The mentoring that occurs between senior and junior student-athletes provides invaluable leadership skills. Senior athletes teach and encourage younger team members.
Senior student-athletes set examples both in the field of play and off that helps them practice and carry the heavy responsibility of leadership. Learning to perform under these expectations at a young age makes them even more ready to shoulder heavier responsibilities in the future.
Practice time management
Adding a school sport to the busyness of life and academic rigors is worth the effort, but it does require good time management skills. To achieve success in their sports and on their report cards, student-athletes must learn to maximize their time and focus to achieve. Coaches, side by side with supportive teachers, make this essential skill obtainable.
Construct positive character traits
Some of the benefits of team sports are referred to by Education.com as the three P’s: persistence, patience and practice. While there are numerous character-building opportunities through school sports, learning to commit to practice times, to sometimes sit on the sidelines and to simply persist in doing something again and again produces character traits that will last a lifetime.
“Winning and losing gracefully are hallmarks of people equipped to live in and lead a civil society. And learning to treat people with dignity, especially under the pressure of competition, is one of the most valuable life lessons sports can offer,” says the Positive Coaching Alliance.
An active lifestyle is healthier than a sedentary one. A student on the move benefits from sharpened senses and less idle time. According to a report from the NFHS, a 2006 study on female athletes discovered that female students who are given more opportunity to participate in athletics in high school show healthy improvement in their weight and body mass numbers.
In another recent study, students were asked how they would like to become more physically fit. Seventy-five percent of respondents chose doing more physical activity and sports during and after school with 50 percent selecting team sports, the NFHS reports.
"Athletics influence body, mind, and spirit," Coach Brown said. "They help motivate and recharge the students, making them capable of doing a lot more than they usually can."
Contact Academy at the Lakes to find out more about how athletics can help improve academic performance or to enroll your student in AATL's all-star academic and athletic programs.