The Increasingly Important Role of Athletics in Schools

Benefits of Student Athletics for Schools and Children

High school basketball player in the locker room with team

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The value of athletics in schools is significant and cannot be overlooked. It has a profound impact on individuals, schools, and communities. Athletics is powerful because it can bridge gaps, bring people who otherwise might not interact together, and provide opportunities not available elsewhere. See several of the key benefits of having an established and successful athletics program at your school here.

Career and Relationship Opportunities

Many young students dream of one day playing sports professionally and grow up regarding star athletes as their heroes. Though very few students go pro, many continue to value athletics for a lifetime. This is often because playing a sport provides opportunities that nothing else can, even opportunities outside of athletics.

For one, top tier athletes can receive scholarships to attend college and continue their athletic and professional careers; some students would not be able to attend college otherwise. This opportunity is life-altering for the small percentage of students it's available to because a college education influences almost every aspect of life after graduation.

For the majority, however, high school is the last time to play organized sports for a number of reasons. With that said, there are plenty of choices for those that stop athletics when handed a diploma but want to keep sports in their lives—coaching is just one terrific way to stay involved. Many successful coaches today were once average players with a passion for and understanding of their game to spare. Some students might also realize their strengths in sports management or sports medicine as a result of school athletics.

Athletics can also provide opportunities through relationships. Players on a team often grow close and form lasting bonds, bonds that can support students well beyond high school or college. Staying connected can also afford people job and mentorship opportunities or it could simply provide them with life-long friends.

The Power of School Pride

Every school administrator and teacher knows that school pride makes a school a more positive environment, and athletics is often a building block of promoting this pride. Pre-game events such as homecoming, pep rallies, and parades are designed to rally a school together in support of a team. The comradery and togetherness created when a school is collectively proud of their athletics is nothing short of outstanding and there are many life lessons for students to learn through these behaviors.

Comradery and Togetherness

Students put their individual differences aside to yell and cheer loudly together in support of their teams, a feat that otherwise might not be possible. For the athletes, there is perhaps nothing more encouraging than seeing a sea of face-painted and chanting classmates rooting for you; for those in the student section, there is nothing more rewarding than lifting others up.

School pride of course creates bonds between individuals and their school but it also creates bonds between individuals. These deep and meaningful connections are made possible by athletics and so much bigger than a school itself. Often, student-athletes are encouraged to show support for other student-athletes

School Recognition

Schools don't often receive enough positive media attention and this can be discouraging for staff and students alike. However, athletics is an opportunity to bring attention to your school. Having a successful athlete or team will likely bring positive media coverage within and around a school's community.

Athletic notoriety is commonly celebrated and many families value strong athletics programs. Sports coverage might inspire students to join your school and they'll stay for all of the other positive features your school has to offer, such as a great academic program, devoted teachers, meaningful extracurriculars, etc.

Sports recognition also puts fans in the stands, which translates to more money poured into the athletics department. This allows coaches and athletic directors the freedom to purchase equipment and training tools that may continue to give their athletes the tools they need to succeed. Student-athletes feel valued when they are properly appreciated for their efforts.

Student Motivation

Athletics can serve as a powerful academic motivator for all athletes, especially those not otherwise inclined to perform to the best of their ability in the classroom. There are many students who see school as secondary to athletics, but coaches and families often require minimum academic performances of students before they are permitted to play. This teaches athletes to value their classes and earn the privilege of playing sports.

A grade point average of 2.0 or higher is typical for most schools to require of students participating in athletics, though many feel that this standard should be raised. While some students stay in school and keep their grades up only because of their desire to compete in athletics, others perform at the bare minimum despite being capable of more. Parents concerned that this bar is too low tend to enforce their own minimums upon their students.

Athletics serve as motivation not only to perform at a certain academic standard but also to stay out of trouble. Athletes know that if they get in trouble, there is a reasonable chance that they will be suspended for all or part of an upcoming game by their coach and school administrators. The prospect of playing sports has long been a powerful deterrent from making wrong choices for many student-athletes.

Essential Life Skills

Athletics teach students essential skills that they will use throughout their lives. The following are some of the most important.

  • Effort: This is defined as giving it everything you have in both practice and games. Effort can overcome many obstacles on and off the field. Students learn to apply themselves to challenges and always do their best through sports. Life lesson: Give your all no matter what and always believe in yourself.
  • Determination: It is the preparation you put into becoming a better player before the game is played that ultimately determines how well you will play. Strength and endurance training, individual practice, film study, and mental focus are just a few of the ways student-athletes prepare to perform. Life lesson: Preparation is key to succeeding in anything. If you work hard to prepare, you will achieve.
  • Self-discipline: Self-discipline is the ability to maintain and carry out the role coaches have assigned you within a game plan. This includes understanding your own individual strengths and weaknesses enough to capitalize on what you do well and improve where you fall short. Life lesson: Stay on task to get the job done.
  • Teamwork: Teamwork involves working with others to achieve a goal. A team is only successful when each individual fulfills their role. Life lesson: Working with others is an essential part of life and something to learn to do well. Cooperate to avoid problems and reach goals.
  • Time management: This is the ability to fulfill all obligations to practice, homework, family, friends, extracurriculars, and more. This skill doesn't always come easily to students and might take time to cultivate. Life lesson: You must be well-balanced and learn to juggle all aspects of your life or you will not be able to fulfill every expectation you have on yourself and placed on you by others.