As the Director of Athletics at Concordia International School Shanghai, I’m often in the position to defend the significant investments that schools put into athletics. After all, couldn’t those time, energy, and financial investments be used more wisely? The answer is to that question is emphatically no! The research, which is abundant, has found that students who participate in education-based athletics receive a whole host of benefits that provide a lasting and positive impact for the rest of their lives.
The purpose of education-based athletics is child growth and development. Important soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication along with character traits such as perseverance and sportsmanship are taught on a daily basis through the vehicle of sport. While some of these principles can be learned passively through participation, trained coaches and administrators intentionally focus on these qualities throughout a season. This pays dividends in a variety of statistics. The National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) have collated significant research on this subject and found that not only does participating on a team provide benefits for students but participating on two or more teams provides even greater benefit.
These benefits include academic measures such as better GPAs, test scores, and college admittance rates, on top of behavioral benefits like student-athletes being less likely to use drugs and alcohol or become a teen parent. Finally, several studies have also shown that student-athletes attain higher levels of education and ultimately earn a higher income later in life. Indeed, 95% of male Fortune 500 CEO’s identified themselves as having participated in athletics, while 80% of female executives said the same thing. This is despite only 57% of students participating in athletics.
For more information on this subject, I would encourage you to look at the research yourself. Citations from this article can be found here.
If you are a parent or are interested in getting more involved, the NFHS also provides online education including free courses for parents and students.