San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In the run-up to the May 11 school bond election, the San Marcos Mercury has invited a cross-section of community members to weigh in on the proposed $77 million capital improvement program, which include $18.4 million for a football and “multi-purpose” stadium and $13.6 million for a student activity complex to serve athletic and extracurricular programs. Early voting started today, April 29, and runs through Tuesday, May 7.

By law, school district employees cannot advocate for or against bond propositions. In this guest commentary, athletics director Mark Soto examines the connection between athletic achievement and success in other fields.

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How does participating in athletics correspond to academic, social and economic achievement among students? Causation is difficult to prove but there is ample evidence of correlation. In my own experience, the link is undeniable.

Tesults were released last month by the professional journal Education Week of a study conducted in Ohio by research authors Jay P. Greene and Daniel H. Bowen over a five-year period. They found that “a school’s commitment to athletics is positively related to academic success,” and they quote many supportive figures regarding graduation rate and increased classroom achievements.

In 2011, Medical News Today reported an international study done in Portugal among school children that found the association between athletics and academics “was stronger for students who played more sports or who participated over a longer period of time, particularly girls.”

Much closer to home, Northside ISD in San Antonio (the fourth largest district in Texas with 100,000 students) recently conducted a comprehensive study. Athletic director Stanley Laing found positive effects on students’ lives both inside and outside the classroom. Taking any group such as band, ROTC, spirit groups, the effect is similar to that of athletics: Kids that are connected outside the classroom are more successful academically.

Borrowing from their study, Northside school officials observed that:

  • Athletes show up. Northside ISD reported attendance rates are “1.7 percent higher for athletes.” Since state funding dollars are based on daily attendance rates, “one additional percentage point can result in thousands of additional funding per day for a campus. Not to mention, students who are in class achieve at a higher rate.”
  • Athletes graduate at a higher rate. Northside ISD student athletes graduated at 97.1 percent compared to the non-athlete rate of 90.1 percent.
  • Athletes score higher on standardized tests. In the Northside ISD study, student athletes out-performed on the 2010 TAKS the non-athletic peers in every subject at every grade level. They said, “This was especially true in the student group identified as economically disadvantaged” (state term).
  • Athletes have fewer discipline referrals. “Following directions on the court or field seems to translate well into following directions in the classroom,” with disciplines almost 10 percent less among athletes and their non-athletic peers.

Involvement in athletics provides the extra support and motivation that many students need to stay in school. Character development is a huge part of our San Marcos CISD athletic programs. Traits such a self-discipline, team commitment, and leadership enhances successful student learning in and out of the classroom setting.

And often, the spirit of healthy competition carries over to other areas of success.

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SOTO is the San Marcos CISD athletics director and head football coach.

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5 thoughts on “Commentary: How athletics affects academics (updated)

  1. Anyone who says that participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities doesn’t provide a tangible benefit to the student clearly never participated in any.

  2. But, But, But if a kid cant pass English and Math then they cant participate in sports right? So lets take a step back and teach them the basics first. What happened to education? Period ! VOTE NO!!

  3. I do think sports and extracurricular activities help more than some think. Kids need to feel like they can be successful at something. Learning is only part of growing. Kids are being taught, but it is up to the kid to take what is given to them to use it. Sports and extracurricular activities takes reading, writing, and math. Get to understand how to teach a sport or extracurricular activity and you will see how much it takes learning all the skills that are given to them in a class room. It’s how they use it and keep on using it. I would say vote yes. Besides where do you think the extra money comes from to help the excess cost that our government does not provide? Get involved at the school and see where the money comes from and how it is spent. You will have a different look on your school.

  4. One could even more persuasively argue that:
    • UIL competitors show up.
    • Dance Team Members graduate at a higher rate.
    • Reading Writing Club scores higher on standardized tests.
    • Math Club has fewer discipline referrals.

    Why are we spending MILLIONS for a violent sport which creates numerous, sometimes permanent injuries, such as concussions?

    I assure you for every point that football earns for showing up, graduation rates, standardized test scores, and lower referrals would by X 2000 with debate competitors. If football is so lucrative, then why is it not paying for its own stadium? Debate team has to pay for its own travel, a necessary component to their competition.

    KEY POINT – Academics should be given top priority not a sport in which head injuries occur. And, what is the statistical break down of “at risk youth” who participate on the team? Surely, they would benefit from a million dollar sound studio to teach team building and record their original songs. Surely, a video or animation studio would create job opportunities and job skills for youth.

    Football does not create jobs, unless it is for future coaches, and we all know those jobs in TEXAS ARE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO LAND.

    Investing this much money on football sends the wrong message to students who participate in academics rather than athletics, that San Marcos values football more than their program.

    VOTE NO ON BONDS BOONDOGGLE. To bad the district gave speaking time to coaches and not citizens when this came up at a public hearing for public comment.

    Warm Regards, LMC

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