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The effects of athletic participation on academic performance

1 June 1997


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer one major research question: 1) How does athletic participation impact student academic performance? In the review of literature it was found that there was considerable conflict over this issue. One researcher, Fejgin (1994), found that athletic participation "showed positive effects of grades, self-concept, locus of control, and educational aspirations" (p.211). While another researcher, Melnick (1992), found "sports participation generally unrelated to grades and standardized test scores" (p.295). Due to the fact that the previous studies were quantitative in nature this study was qualitative to examine the question in a different way to see how participant observations and interviewing might illuminate the issue. The study took place in a rural high school just ten miles outside of a suburban city in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were students ranging from 10th to 12th grade. Data was gathered using written observations and notes from the classroom, at athletic events, and on travel buses, as well as tape recorded interviews with each subject at the conclusion of the study. To protect the students' privacy pseudonyms were used for each student. After recording, collecting, and analyzing extensive notes, and taped interviews, this study found that: 1) students transfer skills and attitudes learned in the athletic arena to the classroom, 2) students manage time on a specific and individual basis, 3) students are emotionally motivated by coaches and academic standards, 4) Students' tendencies to make up missed class work is based on the strength and expectations of their motivating forces. Moreover, it was found that social approval was the major motivation for students to participate in athletics.


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