Elliot Dorow Hovland says that being involved in athletics has taught him to budget his time, improving his academic skills. Photo by Meena Morar.

Athletics: Harmful or Helpful?

Participation in sports shown to be helpful in the classroom

The old stereotype that “athletes are dumb” may not be so relevant anymore. Recently the NCAA conducted a study to compare the graduation rates of college athletes versus students that don’t participate in sports. The results found that between 2006 and 2012 nationally, 65 percent of Divison 1 athletes graduated college while the regular student graduation rates were 64 percent, possibly showing that student athletes perform as well in school as their non-athletic counterparts. However this raises a question: shouldn’t students that have more time on their hands without sports taking up their past time have better grades?

“I have to say that non-student athletes should have better grades because of the amount of free time they would have without sports,” said junior Elliot Dorow Hovland. Yet participating in competitive athletics can teach students important skills that sometimes transfer over to the classroom. Dorow Hovland, a three-sport varsity athlete involved in soccer, hockey and golf, thinks that athletics have taught him how to balance school work and his busy schedule easily.

“I have to plan accordingly, more so than if I wasn’t involved in sports here at Minnehaha,” said Dorow Hovland. “Really you find out I think by realizing just how little time you have to waste. You’re either at school or at a sporting event, and it really eats away free time.”

Many students like Dorow Hovland are involved in sports here at Minnehaha while others, like Bailey McKenzie, are involved outside of school. “I don’t think that being involved in a sport means you’ll do worse than those who aren’t. It just means you have to be smarter with your time,” said McKenzie, a dancer.”I also think there may be a bias that athletes aren’t as good in the classroom both because some students may not wrap their head around the idea that someone or athletes could be good at more than one thing or in more than one area.”

Robert Sternberg, provost and senior vice president of Oklahoma State University, published an article The National Association of College and University of Business Officers (NACUBO) website on the positive effects of being involved in competitive sports while in high school and college and what student athletes actually gain from their involvement, most of the time without even knowing. Sternberg said that athletes crafted and developed leadership, spirit, pride, loyalty, and prosocial behavior patterns in competitive sports. All of these extremely helpful traits later carry over from school into the workforce.

So even with the time taken away from other things to be involved in sports, there is no impact in the classroom as long as there is proper time management. Learning to balance time and developing other key skills all come from taking the role of a student athlete. So if you aren’t involved in sports consider taking one up because there is little to no academic cost for involvement within them. Sports actually can help you more than hurt you in school.

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