Remember When Recess was the Best Part of the Day?
Take a moment and look back to your days as an elementary school student. If you are the athletic type there’s a good chance the time that meant the most to you was recess, a break when you could go outside and run and play sports.
Sure, later you developed an affinity for math or some other subject. You had time to finally discover something you were good at because you were at school every day for recess. With high school dropout rates soaring, some kids never find exactly what their niche is and our contention here is that if sports and a potential athletic scholarship can keep them in school–and it does–we should embrace this reality.
Predictors of Adult Success
The numbers bear this out. Successful extracurricular activities–and sports in particular–are the best predictors of adult success. There is actually a correlation between sports participation and lower dropout rates. With up to a third of our young people not finishing high school, it may be time to encourage even wider sports participation, the best way to ensure students stay enrolled and do well in school.
Is It Really That Simple?
Is sounds like a simple solution, right? Get them involved in sports and see the dropout rate plummet. Students drop out of school for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to family structure and poor academic achievement from the earliest school years.
In fact, according to the California Dropout Research Project, students living with both parents have lower dropout rates and higher graduation rates. Also, 96% of dropouts in a study of 14 school districts in seven different regions of the country did not participate in a high school sport. Athletes even miss half as much school as non-athletes.
Higher Grades, Lower Dropout Rates
A Women’s Sports Foundation survey found that high school athletes have higher grades and lower dropout rates than non-athletes. High school athletes also can boast of a higher grade point average and more frequent college attendance. And athletes who played two sports had an even higher GPA.
Change the Narrative
But what does this have to do with recruiting and playing sports? Money issues are one of the biggest reasons for dropping out of high school and college. Many students simply have to quit school to meet financial obligations. If even a small percentage of high school dropouts can stay in school in hopes of playing sports in college it may change the narrative.
How bad are the numbers? By some estimates one in three students who enter high school isn’t graduating. And experts say that when students drop out it is a long process that has been building for a number of years.
Sports Can Teach Valuable Lessons
Many of these students can learn valuable lessons in sports that will serve them well and can prevent a future drop out. Parents can help in several ways. Perhaps the most important is not falling prey to low expectations. Many students will perform to the level that is expected of them. Low expectations lead to a low level of achievement.
Sports can lead to a good work ethic and self-discipline that can translate to productive school career and serve a student well for a lifetime.