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Life Without Interscholastic Activities



C.W. Powell, Assistant Executive Director WVSSAC

            In today’s economic climate school systems across the country continue to look at the reduction of interscholastic activities as an effective way to make budget cuts.  As one who has spent the last 43 years involved in high school sports I can’t help but see the tragic results that will come from the elimination of education based activities.  School sports programs and other interscholastic activities are about providing an opportunity to participate, they are not about winning a state championship or college scholarship.  If those come to pass it adds to the experience but should not be the measure of success or failure.

            According to a USA Today survey, 95% of the Fortune 500 Companies CEO’s have one thing in common: participation in extracurricular activities while in high school.  Educational based activity programs provide an opportunity to learn valuable lessons that cannot be obtained in a classroom setting alone.  Teamwork, sportsmanship, winning and losing while handling competitive situations, sacrifice and dedication are not the only lessons associated with participation. 

            School systems looking for a dropout prevention program need to look no further than the extracurricular activities including the athletic fields of competition.  One survey recently discovered 96% of high school dropouts did not participate in extracurricular activities.  Participation is often a predicator of later success in college or when entering the job market.  Studies have shown benefits in co-curricular activities include higher grade point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems than the general student population. 

            County Boards of Education looking for a drug and teen pregnancy prevention program need to explore education based activities.  According to the United States Department of Education No Child Left Behind: “The Facts about 21st Century Learning” in 2002, students who spend no time in extracurricular activities are 49% more likely to use drugs and 37% are more likely to become teen parents than those who spend one to four hours per week in extracurricular activities.  After school hours of unsupervised time for youth can lead to one or more life altering events.   

            Scholastic achievement can also be linked to participation in education based activities.  The College Entrance Examination Board, indicated music students scored about 11% higher than non music students on SAT exams.  An issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” found that students who took part in vigorous sports did approximately 10% better in Math, Science, English and Social Studies.   Student participants also learn important lessons in time management as a result of their participation.  The juggling of practice, games, travel and scholastic achievement will be invaluable as they enter adulthood.

            County Boards of Education generally spend between 1 – 3% of their total operation budget on extracurricular activities.  Oftentimes expenses to operate programs are generated by booster clubs, gate receipts and the business community.  Decreasing the number of activities will cause irreversible harm to the development of our youth today.  Community support for bonds and levies to build new schools, textbooks and teacher salaries would be adversity affected if activities are reduced or eliminated.  Activities are the other half of education and participation should be strongly encouraged by all students.

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