Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School Sport Puts the 'A' in Team, Study Finds: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School Sport Puts the 'A' in Team, Study Finds: News

Article excerpt

Students who play for clubs get better grades, US researchers say.

Team sport is the only type of extracurricular activity to make a significant and consistent difference to students' academic grades, new research has found.

Students who belong to extracurricular sports clubs, unlike those who participate in other activities such as drama or debating, are also more likely than their peers to complete their school education and go on to university.

Academics from the University of South Carolina and Pennsylvania State University, both in the US, studied data from 9,700 high-school students aged 14-18. The students attended schools in a range of urban, suburban and rural areas. They participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, including academic and vocational clubs, performing arts societies and team sports.

The academics looked for correlations between the types of after-school activities undertaken by the teenagers and their school success, including the likelihood of progressing to higher education.

They found that students who lived in the countryside were more likely to take part in all kinds of extracurricular activities than their city- dwelling and suburban peers.

But the researchers' most significant findings came when examining the effect of these after-school clubs on students' academic achievements. Team sport was the only extracurricular activity to have a consistent and significant effect on students' grades across all schools.

"Team sport is significantly related to higher grade-point averages and a higher likelihood of completing high school and enrolling in college," said Matthew Irvin, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Carolina, and the paper's lead author.

This was true, he added, even once students' race, sex, previous academic achievement and socio-economic background were taken into consideration.

"Sport allows you to develop a mentoring relationship with adults and with positive, school-oriented peers," Professor Irvin said. "They help socialise you into being more focused on school, and may help develop time-management skills, initiative and an ability to work with others."

Eileen Marchant, of the UK's Association for Physical Education, said that being "physically able and physically competent often complements academic ability". …

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