Benefits of participating in high school athletics

Natalia Gevara, Staff Writer

The thrill of competing, the camaraderie built, and having something to look forward to after school are reasons why playing sports is so popular among high school students. Student athletes dedicate much of their time and energy to their sport, and, surprisingly, there aren’t any negative effects on their performance in academics.

According to researchers at Michigan State University, students who participate in vigorous sports do 10 percent better in science, English, math and social studies compared to other students. A variety of studies also show that athletes’ GPAs are usually a full point higher than non-athletes.

Besides achieving the required GPA in order to participate in sports, other factors, such as increased determination, can lead to better academic performance.

“You have to strive to get at least a 2.0, but often you want to strive for more than just that,” junior Brandon Moss, who plays basketball, said.

Academic improvement is not the only benefit of participating in sports. According to the website “Global Sports Development,” increased physical activity is linked to less risky sexual behavior and fewer tendencies to smoke cigarettes or use marijuana or other illegal drugs.

“You’re busy all the time, so you don’t really have time to get into trouble,” senior Frankie Quarles, who does competitive cheerleading, said.

Juggling practice and being a full-time student isn’t something that can be done successfully without good time management skills. With the additional commitment to a sport, these skills are often put to the test by athletes.

“It’s difficult between practices and keeping up with grades,” sophomore football player and track athlete Darius Livingston said. “It really teaches you organization and discipline.”

Females in particular have shown to benefit from athletics. Studies show that female athletes report the highest GPA of all high school students, with notably higher grades than non-athlete females.

According to the “Healthy You Magazine,” female athletes also have fewer disciplinary issues and lower dropout rates than sedentary girls. Competitive sports have also shown to boost a girl’s self esteem.

Athletic participation also positively affects emotional health. Physical activity leads to an increased amount of endorphins being released, causing the athlete to feel good, which increases emotional wellness. These endorphins also help fight off depression and reduce stress.

Teenagers also develop a healthy sense of competition through sports.  According to the University of Florida, students who participate in sports regularly are able to cope better with competition in other areas of their lives.

Athletes also learn the value of responsibility and integrity. Participation in sports teaches teens how to handle difficult situations in a mature and professional manner. There is an improvement in self-confidence, which often affects many other aspects of a young person’s life.

“The biggest difference that it’s made for me is that I’m not naturally a sociable person, but having a group of people I can depend on has changed that a lot,” sophomore Aidan Backus, a member of cross country and track and field, said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 percent of all high school students play on a school-sponsored sports team. Whether an athlete does a sport recreationally, or because it’s their passion, it has proven to not only benefit teenagers’ physical health but emotional health and academic life too.