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Garza County News

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PISD Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Steve Smith

The Benefits of Athletics in School

The Coach's Corner

Published Jan. 18, 2012 @ 7:08 a.m.

When I moved to Post last summer and was looking for a house to buy or rent,  I had the fortune, or misfortune to run across a home owner who felt it necessary to tell me how athletics is the biggest waste of money and time, after hearing I was the new coach.  Not a particularly good strategy when you are trying to sell a coach a home, but the statement in general was about as intelligent as the selling strategy itself.  I said nothing to this person at the time and simply moved on to the next opportunity.

Since then the State of Texas has cut school finance and many schools across the country are cutting education spending.  The first places many of the cut start at are in extra-curricular program.  I know every program in a school needs to tighten the belt and become more efficient, but you can read about schools cutting out sports, eliminating programs not only in sports, but in fine arts, electives, agricultural and vocational programs.  Some schools even charge kids to be in those programs instead of funding them properly.

Post does an excellent job and is pushing to do more to improve opportunities for our kids.  College bound or not, students need these programs in order to complete a well-rounded education. Athletic and all extracurricular activity is largely a metaphor or a proving ground if you will, for young students. There they learn life lessons and to experiment and make choices and learn about how to handle life’s adversities and how to set goals and enjoy life’s successes.  Class is for gaining of knowledge and athletics is for action for the two can only be useful if learned together.  Knowledge has no value unless it is put into action and athletics is drudgery without the information and plan to reach your goals.

As one of our great presidents stated, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt  Yes, he knew the value of extracurricular activities and more the danger of not having them.

While the majority of people know the benefits of extra-curricular programs and have themselves benefited in participation, more and more these programs are coming under attack and are disappearing from school’s curriculum all too often.  While Post ISD is on the upswing in growing and valuing programs than involve our students in a variety of areas, I want to provide some facts about school activities and their value.  While the following enumerates the factual evidence of the value of athletics in particular, the same could be said for one act play, band, UIL academics, agriculture, mechanics or any other endeavor that teaches students to work for a goal, to strive for excellence, and to apply knowledge and be a person of action.

In these tough economic times, let us start with the all mighty dollar.  School activity program in 99% of schools across the nation spend anywhere from 1/2 to 8% of the total operating budget on these programs.  Here in Post we spend around 3% which is very close to the average.   Talk about value! With the majority of students  choosing to participate in at least one subject, I would say that is the best investment in America you can make.

Activities support he academic mission of schools.  They are an extension of a good educational program.  Students who participate in activity programs have higher grade-point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems as compared to the school general population.

Activities are inherently educational. Through participation in activity programs, students learn teamwork, sportsmanship, appropriate winning and losing behaviors, rewards of hard work, self-discipline, building of self-confidence, and develop skill to learn to handle competitive situations.  These are great qualities when the goal of a school is to produce responsible adults and productive citizens.

Activities foster success in later life.  Participation in high school activities is often a predictor of later success in college, careers, and as contributing members of society.  A 1989 study by the Woman’s Sports Foundation indicated that students who participated in activities stay involved in the community after graduation to much higher degree.  The data obtained by the US Department of Education High School and Beyond Study, indicated girls receive as many benefits as boys, and minority athletes are more socially involved than non-athletes.

Research conducted by Skip Dane of Hardiness Research in Wyoming revealed the following about participation in activities; 1) by a 2-1 margin, boys gain a better chance to go to and complete college, 2)  girls at 3-1 better chance of finishing college. 3)  92% of participants do not use drugs, 4) participants are more self-assured. 5) They are more likely to take high level classes then required. 6) They receive above average grades especially in above basic required classes.

A 1985 study by the National Federation of State High School Associations in a 50 state survey showed: 95% participation teaches valuable lessons that students cannot and do not learn in a regular classroom.  99% agree that participation promotes good citizenship.  95% agreed activities contribute to school and community spirit.  86% believed the time and effort spent was well worth the rewards and was not excessive.  70% said there is strong support for these programs from parents and the community at large.

Other Research:  1992 Colorado Department of Education revealed that participants in any form of interscholastic activity have “significantly higher” grade point averages and better attendance.  1992 survey by the New Mexico Department of Education indicated that the GPA’s of at-risk students improved by being active in interscholastic activities.  1984 Texas Education Agency studied the incidence of course failure between participants and non-participants and found that 46% of uninvolved students failed one or more classes, while only 23% of participants failed a class. 1981 Iowa study has students NOT participating had an average GPA of 2.39, active students in one sport had a 2.61 GPA, and those active in multiple sports had an average GPA of 2.82.

Results of a 1987 survey of individuals at the executive vice president level or above in 75 Fortune 500 companies indicated that 95% of those executives participated in sports during high school.  In addition, 54% were involved in student government, 43% in NHS, 37% in music, 35% in youth organizations like scouting, and 18% in school publications.  The American College Testing Service compared the value of four factors in predicting success after high school.  The one yardstick that could be used with certainty as a predictor of success in life was achievement in school activities.  Not useful or accurate where high school grades, college grades or high ACT scores.

The College Entrance Examination Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was examined also and it also found that “The best predictor of later success was a person’s independent, self-sustained venture.  Teens who were active in school activities were found to be the most likely to succeed.

In periods of economic pressures, the expenditure of public tax funds for nonessential programs is challenged as wasteful and lacking in tangible cost benefits.  I opposition to various criticisms, I offer ten research studies conducted over a 25 year period that demonstrate consistent and invaluable examples students growth, achievement, and realization of basic educational mission successes.

Teachers feel students derive educational values from participation and cited a positive correlation between athletic participation, academic performance, and self-esteem.  Source:  Braddock, Jomills H., II. “Race, Athletics, and Educational Attainment- Dispelling the Myths,” Youth and Society, Volume 12, No. 3, March 1981, 335-349.

Lack of participation in school activities is associated with a greater likelihood of involvement in delinquent behavior. Source:  Dinitz, S. and B.A. Pfau-Vincent. “Self-Concept and Juvenile Delinquency”, Youth and Society, Dec. 1982, 133-158.

Direct positive correlations between involvement in activities and measures of academic and intellectual performance.  Source: Dvorak, Jack. “Comparisons of College Grades and ACT scores between participants and non-participants.  Association for Education in Journalism and Mars Communication, 1986, Norman, Ok.

Female college participants who had been involved in high school sports had higher ACT scores and managed time better than non-participants.   Source:  Feits, D>L> and M.R. Weiss. “The impact of Girls Interscholastic Sport Participation in Academic Orientation.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1984, Volume 55, No. 4, 332-339.

A positive correlation exists for entering freshman between participants in high school activities and non-participants.  Source: Havranick, Mark, J. and G. Golsan.  “Academic Success and Participation in High School Extracurricular Activities – Is There a Relationship?” American Psychological Association, August 1986, Washington D.C.

Attachment to school and involvement in school activities provides containment against delinquent behaviors. Source: Hirschi, T. Causes of Delinquency, Berkley, University of Ca. Press, 1969.

Direct Positive relationships exist between involvement in activity programs and academic achievement.  Source: Illinois Board of Education, Department of Planning and Research.  Activities in Illinois High schools, Champaign, Nov. 1985.

Cited in a large population study by the Center of Educational Statistics, the National Federation, and Kansas State High School Activities Association.  All point to better academic performance, attendance, and attitudes among activity participants than among non-participants.  Source: Jansen, Paul. “Making Magic: High School Sports Builds leaders.” Athletic Business, March 1992.

Increased potential for delinquency among adolescents who do not have positive outlets for their energy.  Source: Lawrence, Richard. “School Performance Containment Theory, and Delinquent Behavior.” Youth and Society, Vo. 17, No. 1 September , 1985-86.

Aspirations of African-American youth appear to be positively affected by participation in athletics. Source: Poicou, J. Steven and E.W. Curry. “Athletic Success as a Facilitator of Adolescents’ Mobility Orientations “. 1974, Atlanta

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

There will be those who do not understand or value sports and school activities in general, especially if they did not themselves enjoy the benefits as a youth.  But in these times it is important to remember the foundation for success and the cornerstone of the future is in our young men and women who today walk the halls of Post ISD, for they one day will be the leaders, business owners, husbands, wives, and parents of the next generation. 

While we cannot change the world, but we can hold dear the institutions in our schools that provide for the best and most complete of educational experiences and focus our support and expectations behinds these programs for the good of the students, but also for the good of everyone.  The value of which benefits all races, colors, creeds, sex, or age and for 100% of all who participate for a mere 3% of a schools total operating budget.  That my Bold Gold friends is the best use of tax money for return in the entire world!

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