The relation of sports participation to academic performance of high school students

Nick Paul JacAngelo, Florida International University


Over the past one hundred years, interscholastic athletic programs have evolved to a place of prominence in both public and private education across America. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) estimates that approximately 3.96 million males and 2.80 million females participated in organized high school athletic programs during the 2001–2002 school year at over 17 thousand public and private high schools. The popularity of interscholastic athletic programs has resulted in continuous investigations of the relationship between high school athletic programs and academic performance. The present study extends earlier investigations by examining the relation of athletic participation to several indicators of academic performance for senior high school students. This research examined: (a) average daily attendance of varsity athletes and non-athletes; (b) final cumulative grade point average; and (c) test scores on the tenth grade Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FLAT) in both reading and in mathematics. Data were collected on 2081 randomly selected male and female high school students identified as athletes or non-athletes at ten public senior high schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district. The results of the overall analyses showed a positive and significant relationship between athletic participation and educational performance. On average, athletes were absent fewer days from school per year than non-athletes and athletes earned a significantly higher cumulative grade point average than their non-athlete peers. A significant statistical difference was also found in the tenth grade FCAT test scores in both reading and mathematics for athletes and non-athletes when eighth grade FCAT test scores in reading and mathematics were used as co-variates. Athletes earned significantly higher Grade 10 FCAT test scores in both reading and mathematics than non-athletes. Although cause and effect cannot be inferred from this study, the findings do indicate the potentially beneficial value of athletic programs in public secondary education. The study concluded that Florida high school graduation requirements might seriously consider the role of interscholastic athletic programs as a valid and essential extra-curricular activity.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

JacAngelo, Nick Paul, "The relation of sports participation to academic performance of high school students" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3126425.