Athletic Participation and Academic Achievement of High School Students: A Longitudinal Study of Athletic and Non-Athletic Participants

Robert F. McCarthy (Weymouth High School, Massachusetts, USA)


The majority of extant research studies have established that high school students’ athletic participation is positively associated with several educational outcomes, including academic performance. However, the effect of long-term athletic participation on academic performance remains unclear. Using a longitudinal data of 220 students from a high school in eastern Massachusetts of the United States, this study has revealed that athletic participants in this school started with a statistically significant higher GPA than non-participants in the first year of study, and have continued to be higher in the following two years, lag behind significantly, however, in academic achievement growth from their non-participation counterparts. The results of the study call for thoughtful decision-making regarding sports programs and athletic policies, proper guidance and adequate support for athletes and an optimal sport-academic culture in American high schools.


High School, Athletic Participation, Academic Achievement, Zero-sum Perspective, Developmental Perspective

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