Abstract argument on if sports participation effects the



            The proposed research is designed to
distinguish an answer to the argument that college sports participation takes
away from the student’s academic performance. While several studies show that sports
participation causes children to do worse in school then those that are not
participating in sports, it is unclear if this affiliation is a result of
negative academics from the child, or due to the impact of the sports on the
kids minds and ability to participate in school. The general focus of this
study is on how athletes and non-athlete’s grade are during the school year. The
study will examine the effects of sports participation on many different
measures of their academic performance. Participants (N-40) will be sent an
online survey that they will be asked to fill out to the best of their ability,
also scholarly articles based on this topic will be looked at and examined in
finding an answer to the question of this study. This research will provide
somewhat of an answer to the argument on if sports participation effects the
athlete’s academic performance.

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There are about 482,600 students
throughout roughly 1,092 colleges or universities that participate in
athletics. About 187,000 alone are division III student-athletes (NCAA, 2014). Many
children are pressurized into sports when they are younger, by their parents.
Getting involved and finding a passion or hobby in life is not easy. But,
should parents be pushing their children into a life full of sports or are the
effects of sports too negative to keep pursuing? Lots of athletes are not given
the chance to play sports in college but as stated about nearly 482,000 student
athletes have been given that opportunity. The term “jock” is the typical
stereotype of athletes in high school and college. The term “jock” has
negatively been linked with the average athlete who seems solely concerned sports, but is the name living
up to the academic ambitions of student-athletes today? Studies suggest “that
the competing demands of high expectations in the classroom and on the playing field
may lead to academic difficulties for some student-athletes” (Scott, 2008).
However, many other studies have shown that students do have better academic
standing in season then they do out of season. Scott states “student-athletes
perform better academically in-season than they do during the less structured
off-season” (Scott, 2008). The purpose of this study is to examine the
effects of involvement in college athletics on student athlete’s academic performance.






                                Literature Review:

Lots of athletes growing up have a
goal of becoming a professional athlete and getting paid to play the sport they
love, but once entering college the about 500,000 student athletes then realize
that the goal is not totally realistic. Majority of student-athletes do not go
on to play professionally, this causes students to really think if the sacrifice
of their academic performance is worth it. People do argue that academic
performance is quiet troubling when it comes to athletes because once the four
years is up they only have their knowledge of what they learned in classes to
fall back on. Wretman explains that
“physical activity can promote cell stability and lighten the negative effects
of stress on the body” (Wretman, 2017). Students that participate in school
sports have been seen to be more attentive in class and more eager to learn new
things. They are like this because they channel their energy they have into the
sports they are playing so they do not have a crazy amount of energy while
sitting in class. Sabia and Rees say that “participation
in structured athletic activities is said to promote a wide range of social,
physical, and intellectual skills, leading to better classroom performance” (Sabia,
2010). Young student-athletes have scored higher on tests, because of their
study habits, they are more motivated to study and the reasons why they do it become
way clearer to them. This shows the importance of arranging the free time when
this time is occupied, in a bigger part, by training and playing their sport,
and how important and beneficial it is to invest time in active relaxation instead
of sedentary relaxation activities, this shows that sports at a competition
level improves performance and does not interfere with studies. It is seen in
many different studies that athletes on average perform better academically
then non-athletes. Some have argued that important skills and qualities
are developed through participation in sports that are not acquired through the
academic curriculum. They argue that athletic participation plays and important
role in their academics.

Chasing deadlines and
running late to lectures are the most strenuous forms of exercise many college
students engage in. To some, even the slightest thought of balancing a sporting
career with a degree is enough to make some of us sweat. But evidence suggests
that juggling the two can benefit both academic and sporting performance. One study alone said that having two careers (i.e. sports and academics) provides encouragement
for training and preparation, inspiring athletes intellectually and relieving
stress at the same time. Self-discipline is tied to academic focus, helping to get
rid of procrastination. Students are often directed to exercise because of
its mood-enhancing properties and for good reason, a commonly used saying is “a
healthy body equals a healthy mind”. Researchers say that “the
time demands of athletic programs force student-athletes to sacrifice attention
to academics making it difficult for them to devote time to study or earn good
grades” (Aries, 2004). However, in many other studies it shows that the amount
of time that is needed for sports teaches students how to manage their time
better. They figure out a way to manage their school work and their
games/practices. It was said that student athletes at highly selective schools
encounter greater academic challenges, they are given harder classes and
expected to perform at a higher level than other students. As an athlete, you
are held to a higher standard and expected to perform at that level all the
time, this is because you represent the school in a different way than
non-athletes. You are always expected to perform your best no matter what.

Commitment to school sports does not have to translate into
compromised academic performance. Although these students often feel substantial
pressure to perform both on the field and in the classroom, the benefits of
athletic endeavors seem to counterbalance the challenges they present. Regardless,
many athlete’s stress levels become increased as they work to maintain their eligibility
while still continuing to advance in school. Many student athletes expressed
concern over having not enough time to study for exams and write term papers
that every other student has. Team travel was also cited as a big stress factor
because of the amount of missed classes and assignments. The biggest impact
from sports and school is the impact on the student’s GPA, “they
find negative GPA impacts for student-athletes. This negative effect is larger
for “marquee” sport athletes, American football and basketball players, with
these negative impacts being even larger during the sports season” (Wesley, 2011).
It is more difficult maintaining a high GPA and continuing to excel in sports
as well. Some students lose track of their academics as they are mainly focused
on the sport they went to that specific school to participate in. Also, another
factor is that student-athletes chose schools based on their athletics not
their academics. They chose the school that is recruiting them, or the school that
they find has a better athletic program, when they should be focusing on the
academics and what they can study while they are in their four years of school.
Studies also show that “larger GPA deficits for athletes participating in
marquee sports and lesser academically qualified athletes being more likely to
change majors” (Wesley 2011). It is the same in high school, participating in athletics in high school tends to keep
student-athletes in school and leads them to participate in other
extracurricular activities and makes them feel more popular than non-athletes,
it has virtually no immediate effect on academic achievement for most students.
And it has even less impact on their later success in college and the work
force. Playing sports can become quite damaging to students when they are taken
too seriously and people start to write off their limits. It is said that during
the younger years sports are important because it teaches kids about teamwork,
responsibility, dedication and self-motivation. Athletes have a difficult task
and that is finding a way to manage their time properly by balancing sports and
academics. They need to keep up with their priorities and avoid negative
effects, or it will hurt them in the long run both in their sport and in the
classroom.  However, most students do not
know how to manage this time, they are more focused on their sport which leads
them to forget that they have other responsibilities which includes their
school work.



Research conducted through a 10
questions survey that was sent out via email to a bunch of random people (athletes
and non-athletes) throughout Kean University. Students spared 5 minutes out of
their day to complete the survey for this study. The response rate on the
survey was not completely 100% but it was not too far off.  The questions for this study were fairly
generic. The first two questions were general, demographic questions used to
get an idea of the of the identity of the whole group. The next 8 questions
related more to the study at hand. The first question of the next 8 was just asking
students whether they were an athlete or not, this just gives more information
to relate athletes to when it comes to their academics. The next three
questions show the correlation between student’s GPAs and the amount of credits
they are taking and if there is a correlation with the season their sport is
in. The following two questions go hand in hand. The ask students to say
whether they think sports have an effect on students grades and whether they
answer yes or no to elaborate and explain why they think that. This gives real
opinions from participants on what they feel the correlation of sports and
academics is.



            The goal was to get around 30
responses from students around Kean University, both athletes and non-athletes.
Only about 20 people had participated in this experiment. Below are the results
from this study.

Table 1: Demographics of survey
participants including gender and age.






















Table 1 shows the results to the two demographic
questions pertaining to the survey’s participants. The people who partook in
the survey were 65% female at 13 people, and 35% male at 7 people. The age of
the individuals varied with 12 participants being 12-20, 6 people being between
the ages of 21 and 24 and 2 people between the ages of 24 and 27.

Figure 1: Percentages at people believe
if sports play a part in academic performance.


Twenty student athletes were asked if they agreed
or disagreed on whether their involvement in sports played a part in their
academic success. The results revealed that 15 people agreed or said “yes” to
the question, 5 said “maybe”. The results are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 2: Responses to why they
think sports play a part in academics.

you have less time to do school work.

Sports require students to
be on top of their work more

Keeps the
brain active

Playing sports could affect
your academics

Keeps you
focused and occupied throughout the day

Keep me on track, time

between busy schedules and good grades

Effects your grades poorly

motivates me to get my work done.

It makes us more organized
and helps us do better in school. There is something to strive for.


helps with time management

they are
help to a higher standard

you have required study
hall hours and a certain gpa you need


could keep you motivated to
do well

Above are the responses that students had when
asked to explain why they felt sports played a part in academic success.

 Figure 3: Percentage of hours that
student-athletes feel that they devote to their athletic commitments.




The student-athletes were asked to specify the
approximate time per week they devote to their athletic activities such as
practice, games, film and training room needs per week (Figure 2). Three people
spend “6-9 hours” between commitments, 7 devote “10- 13,” 2 expend “13+ hours,”
and 8 people were not athletes.

Figure 4: Percentage of time
that is devoted to academic work






The students were also asked to state how many
hours they devote to academics per week. Ten athletes spend “6-8” hours on
homework, 5 devote “3-5,” 3 spend “0-2,” and 2 devote “8+” to academic work.

Figure 5: Percentage of GPAs
among the students




When the students were asked about their current
grade point average, one answered “2.0-2.5,” five answered “2.5-3.0,” fourteen
answered “3.0 and up”.


Many different conclusions were
drawn between the literature and the survey results that were found from this
study. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of the involvement
in athletics at the collegiate level. The results were from the view of the students
and were conducted so one could figure out the positive and negative effects of
being involved in athletics. For the most part, results from student athletes
agreed with the scholarly research that was cited in the literature review. I
predicted that more people would think that sports had a positive effect on
academic success. In this study, more people did believe that sports effected
academic success and by the looks of the single open-ended question they all
believed to have had positive feedback on the correlation. There were some that
thought the effects were negative and many studies that I looked at also showed
many negative points. Thus, the hypothesis I believe was partially supported.


are many limitations to the study conducted about the effects of athletics on
academic performance. First, only 20 people completed this survey after sending
out to around 75 people. Having more people answer would have made the results
a little better and given more of a range in responses. Another limitation from
this study is that students that did respond could have not been totally honest
about their GPAs or the amount of time they spend on their schoolwork or the
amount of time spend on athletic commitments. The last limitation that came
about was only students from Kean University were sent the survey. Surveying
athletes and non-athletes from different universities would have provided more
of an insight into how other schools function when it comes to their athletics
and academics. For future studies, it would benefit to send the survey to
different universities in different divisions of athletics across a wider range
of sports. This would provide a stronger response and a bigger difference the
literature review and the responses from the survey.  


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