A quantitative analysis of high school sports participation intensity and breadth : relationships with academic achievement in a rural Missouri high school
The purpose of this study was to address the gap in research related to whether measures of participation (intensity and breadth) demonstrated a relationship with academic achievement for 11th grade student athletes (N=128) in a rural Missouri high school. Recent research found high school-aged students in interscholastic activities were less likely to be multisport athletes than in previous decades. This decrease in multisport participation has occurred within the context of United States participation trends which demonstrated overall participation increases from 1989 to 2017 (Bell et al.,2016; Howard, 2017; Jayanthi, Pinkham, Dugas, Patrick, & LaBella, 2013; Moore, Murphey, Bandy, & Cooper, 2014). Since increased connectivity to school viaextracurricular school activities (ESAs) enhances social bonds associated with positive academic and behavioral outcomes, a reduction in participation intensity and/or breadth may exhibit deleterious effects to the academic and social development students experience in the school setting (Crosnoe, 2002; Eccles & Gootman, 2002; Hirschi,1969). Anonymous athletic participation and achievement data from 2015-2017 was obtained from the school’s archive and analyzed by correlation, hierarchical regression, and one-way ANOVA. Data derived from statistical analyses demonstrated two themes regarding sport participation, ACT, and grade-point average (GPA): a) Intensity demonstrated no statistical or practical significance to student achievement measured by ACT; however intensity of participation did share a statistically significant relationship to cumulative GPA (p < .05) and b) an ANOVA analysis demonstrated statistically significant differences in breadth and GPA (p < .01) between one sport athletes and three sport athletes. Three sport athletes had statistically significantly higher GPAs than one sport athletes and practically significant higher GPAs than two sport athletes. Utilizing these results suggested practical considerations for rural school administrators considering both the number of ESA sport offerings and the academic benefits ESAs multisport participation provide. Future research on ESA sport, activity, and non-activity participation related to academic outcomes is justified.