Many people tend to take a fairly limited view of high school athletics. The risk of injuries, such as concussions, tends to generate a lot of attention, not to mention headlines. Other aspects draw attention too, such as the emphasis on sporting scholarships to college. But there’s a lot more to high school athletics than this — being on a team can have positive lifelong ramifications. Here are the top five!
1. Being on a team can help your career
Studies have shown that members of high school varsity teams have better career prospects. It seems employers associate certain qualities with athletes, such as leadership, self-respect and self-esteem. And actual data shows this perception to be largely accurate, even decades after high school. This may be why, statistically, high school athletes tend to have more successful careers.
2. Sports can boost academic performance
A 2007 study in Minnesota found that participants in high school sports had an average GPA of 2.84, while students not involved in athletics scored an average 2.68. Athletes also missed less school. A similar study found that participation in just about any sport, including soccer, football and even skateboarding, scored an average 10 percent higher in core subjects like math, science and language arts.
3. Sports teaches important life lessons
They call it the “Three Ps”: persistence, patience and practice. In sports, one profits from these values. Persistence makes us able to keep trying despite setbacks; patience encourages the playing of the long game and the employment of strategic thought; and practice teaches that we can improve over time. All of these lessons are incredibly valuable, and are certain to serve every young person well as they progress through high school and into college and beyond.
4. Sports requires good time management skills
Let’s face it, anything athletic, be it varsity, intramural or old-fashioned pick-up sports, are an addition to the schedule. School is school and places its demands on students, and no one gets a pass on assignments or exams just because they’re on a team. That means that participating in sports demands real time management skills. Athletes have to learn how to juggle games, tournaments and road trips with all the usual rhythms of high school. It can be really challenging, even downright exhausting — but learning how to manage one’s time will reap huge rewards for the rest of one’s life.
5. Sports teaches a lot about success
Athletics can be tons of fun, but let’s face it, there’s a scoreboard and everyone involved is trying to put numbers on that thing! But that’s incredibly useful, because it’s clear, unambiguous and really straightforward. Life rarely presents us with such a simple playing field. It’s an excellent environment to learn how to succeed — when to take risks, when to work as a team, when to strike out as an individual, how to handle pressure, how to push oneself to one’s limits, and so much more. This isn’t about halftime speeches in the locker room, it’s about picking up real life skills that have real application in the real world.
As you can see, there’s much more to high school sports than what’s usually shown in the movies. Athletes have the opportunity to benefit greatly from participating. Varsity or recreational, win or lose, star or bencher, athletes learn crucial life skills in addition to building memories.