From Game Point to Straight A’s

Research proves high school student athletes maintain higher GPAs than non-athletes

When teenagers go from school to sports, then home to finish homework while somehow fitting in dinner, some consider themselves lucky to fall into bed before experiencing the hard hit of midnight. This is the real life struggle of most high school student athletes and after adding games, meets and competitions to the schedule, some end up spending more time at school then they do at home.
Eight hundred and twenty of the 1,163 students who were enrolled at FHS last year are familiar with this so called struggle having participated in at least one school sponsored sport, making sports the most common extra curricular activity. This statistic is a positive reflection on the Fenton Tigers because researchers at Michigan State University have determined that athletic participation has a direct impact on grades.
According to MSU’s research, students who compete in at least one school sport do 10 percent better in English, science, math and social studies compared to other students.
“Athletes maintain higher grades because their sports goals translate into academic goals,” soccer player and track athlete senior Thomas Pilarski said. ”Sports teach you about teamwork and other life skills that also apply in the classroom.”
While this research directly relates athletic performance to academic performance in core classes, different studies reveal how some athletes have a GPA that is a full point higher than non-athletes.
“Athletes are used to splitting up their time between sports and school work,” basketball and soccer player senior Hannah Evo said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that athletes have better grades.”
Among Fenton High’s 2014 Senior Class, 15 of the 24 students who were apart of last year’s Honor Guard participate in at least one school-sponsored sport while 128 of the 298 seniors were part of a school sponsored athletic team during the 2012-13 seasons.
“Playing football helps me to manage the time I spend on homework,” football player senior Ross Person said. “Because I spend a lot of time at practice it’s important for me to complete what assignments I can at home and then use SRT.”
While both male and female athletes report higher GPAs than non-athletes, the girls are larger contributors to those who play a school sport and those who do not.
Last year, the boys in the 2014 senior class held an average GPA of 3.077 while the average GPA of male non-athletes was 2.280. Showing an even larger gap are the 2014 girls. The Lady Tigers maintained an average GPA of 3.440 while non-athletes maintained a 2.946.
One female student athlete actually notices a change in her academic behavior when she is not part of a team.
“During my off season, I find that I procrastinate more,” senior track and field athlete Tori Chapin said. “I try to keep myself busy with other things like assistant coaching the middle school girls basketball team or working out after school so I don’t get lazy and fall behind on homework.”
Fenton’s female athletes have the highest GPA of the student body who, when averaged together, maintained a 2.886 GPA during the 2012-13 school year. However, advantages for girls who reached success in track and field like Chapin, or played on the high school basketball and soccer teams like Evo don’t end with a higher grade point average.
Girls who compete on a high school sports team increase their odds for graduating college by 41 percent compared to those who choose not to participate.
“Athletes have more drive to compete for their grades as they do in sports,” Evo said. “That’s another reason why they maintain higher grades and are more likely to graduate from college.”