Published On: Mon, May 11th, 2015

ON THE SIDELINES:  Do student-athletes make better students?





This past Friday, I was taking photos at the annual Tribal Council Awards Day.  As I was there, I began to notice a trend – a lot of the high school students receiving awards were also athletes.  As an example, seven members of this past year’s varsity Lady Braves basketball team received a Tribal Council Merit Award.

I began to wonder, do student-athletes make better students?

According to a study released in 2014 by the University of Kansas, the answer is yes.   The study showed that student-athletes had higher graduation rates, higher test scores, lower dropout rates, and attended school more often than non-athletes.

The authors of the study stated several times that athletic participation, in and of itself, does not make someone smarter.  “What we are saying is participation is important,” said Angela Lumpkin, University of Kansas professor of health, sport and exercise sciences, who was one of the study authors.  “Whether it’s learning time management or handling expectations from someone in their life like coaches, teammates or family members, athletes are learning discipline.”

Discipline in the classroom is the same as discipline on the field or the court.  It takes the same level of commitment and desire to study and make good grades as it does to put your time in the weight room in the off-season or run drills over and over in practice.

Athletes must keep their grades up or they are deemed ineligible.  The NCHSAA requires that students pass at least five courses the previous semester to participate in sports.

Dr. Robert Whitley collaborated with NCHSAA on a recent study entitled “A Comparison of the Educational Performances of Athletes and Nonathletes in 133 North Carolina High Schools”.

The study examined areas such as GPA, attendance, discipline referrals, dropout rate and graduation rate.  “The most surprising aspect of the study was not that athletes as a whole do better, because there was a lot in the literature to suggest that was true, but it was how much better athletes did.”

The study found that the average GPA for athletes was 2.86 compared to 1.96 for non-athletes and athletes had a dropout rate of 0.7 percent compared to 8.98 percent for non-athletes.

This reporter, for one, thinks it is long overdue for people to lose the “dumb jock” label.

Sporting must-sees for May 15-17

For something different this weekend, try watching cycling.  It’s more exciting than it sounds.  The Tour of California comes on Sunday, May 17 at 1pm on NBC.