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Asan Anarkulov

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How can sports help improve education in high school?

A high school I go to is currently experiencing academic difficulties where about 50% of students fail at least one class. This is shocking. I am going to be a senior this year and am concerned about education of my peers. However, my school is good at one thing - sports, especially at soccer. As an athlete and a member of National Honor Society, I would like to find specific ways to implement sports into a learning environment. Some ideas about projects related to sports and academics that can improve my school's academic performance would be helpful and much appreciated.

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    Jul 11 2013: Physical activity can enhance cognitive functioning and relieve stress. It can give students a sense of well-being and comraderie. Positive affect of this kind is productive in creative thought and problem solving.

    That said, the relationship between sports participation and academic performance is complex.

    I don't think using sports examples or teaching science through the analysis of sport is likely to have significant benefit in terms of the academic performance of student athletes. The same is true for projects related to sports. I have tried this and offer only my anecdotal impression from my experience with the gambit of bringing sports topics into the math classroom. I have no scientific evidence.

    One challenge with competitive sports participation is that it takes time and commitment. It is good to develop the disposition to give something time and commitment, but the hours students spend committed to competitive sport is not only time that is no longer available for academic work but also can be the student's most alert hours. The homework is then done tired.

    Our soccer player gets home and may feel more like winding down than doing homework.

    Further, an excellent athlete may feel greater reward from his commitment to sports than he does in his academic efforts. This may lead to more and more emphasis on sport over academic effort.

    Does your school base eligibility for sports on passing all classes?
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      Jul 12 2013: Our school is small ... 85% of the students participate in one or more sports. We are a academically excelling rated school. Most of the athletes are honors students. Academics are emphasized. For many years we had trophy cases that displayed only the sports awards. Two years ago I made a case that honored academics ... honor graduates ... college grads ... academic bowl teams ... graduate military members ... and a special section for those we have lost.

      The criteria to participate in sports is C and above in all subjects.

      The great thing here is parental support for the school, student, and ALL programs .... music, drama, science fairs, etc ...

      If a student is struggling then a student support group takes action. The upper grades mentor those in need. It is seldom that teachers have to get involved. We have enjoyed no drop outs or failures to graduate in five years that I am aware of. We are well above state average in all subjects reported. This is of course mostly due to being a small school in a small town.

      By the way ... I use intercept geometry in football, the arc VS straight line for track jumpers, the lean VS erect for runners, the importance of the arc in basketball, etc ... math in action.

      We preach the value of sports and the life lessons ... we also keep our feet on the ground with what is the focus of school and what will be important five // ten /// twenty years from now. With all of our all state athletes not one has gone pro.

      Always enjoy your input. Bob.
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        Jul 12 2013: My son's school has about 85% of the kids participating in competitive sports as well. My son doesn't, competing, rather, in math, but he does take physical education continuously, for which I am grateful.

        His is also a high-performing school. I am sure there are no drop outs.

        At the secondary school where I taught, the soccer teams, volleyball, and basketball were all taken seriously. Many honors students were on these teams as well as on elite teams.

        But I know my kids would never have been able to get all their homework done to their standards had they played sports competitively.

        It is very child-specific.

        I know you are involved in coaching sports. I am not acquainted with the use of math on the field- only sports contexts in the classroom. Sports involving throwing or batting balls are natural in the discussion of quadratics. Basketball is a natural for conditional probability. Baseball is a natural for Pythagorean Theorem. Running is often used in work involving the distinction between constant and variable rates, linear and non-linear functions.
    • Jul 12 2013: "Does your school base eligibility for sports on passing all classes?" Yes, it does. Athletes must maintain a Grade Point Average of at least 2.0.

      These are all valuable comments and inputs. I appreciate them all. Thank you very much. I guess the best way to help out our school through sports is to force all athletes to get help from tutoring systems that our clubs, like National Honor Society, provide throughout the year.
    • Jul 13 2013: What I found is that "physical activity" in a school context was done primarily on a competitive basis. We had to be "fair" and "not arrogant" when talking about academic matters, but the rule didn't apply to physical activities. Of course, if the purpose of a school is just to breed industrial drones, that's probably a good control mechanism. Let the little drones have their vicarious thrills through useless sports. Discourage them from learning to think. That way, there will be fewer effective dissidents later in life.
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        Jul 13 2013: This was not my experience, which is one piece of evidence that this varies from place to place. I know at my son's school, physical education is not competitive unless one is talking about the sports teams. This is good for my son, as he is an exceptional student and at best a mediocre athlete. No one even teases him for it.

        The environment is extremely academic, but like at the school Robert describes, 85% of the kids play competitive sports. It is considered part of being healthy and well-rounded rather than a substitute for academic and personal growth.

        Do you have the same negative impression of playing generally or only of athletic sorts of play?
        • Jul 13 2013: I have a negative impression of institutionally-mandated competition and institutional awards of special privilege on the basis of that competition. College bowl competitors don't get special classrooms built for them AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. What I object to is the use of "athletics" as a drain on scarce resources in a way that contributes nothing to actual learning. There is a vast difference between instilling healthy practices and irresponsibly frittering away taxpayer funds to build sports palaces and maintain unprofitable sporting enterprises that contribute nothing to overall education. Then, since the "physical education" faculty overlaps heavily with the "sports" faculty, that attitude infects "physical education". If sports truly is so magnificent, let it compete fairly in the open market of ideas and resources WITHOUT special privilege or taxpayer funds. If competition is so wonderful, then let the institutions based on competition compete against other pastimes and hobby groups.
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        Jul 13 2013: The questioner is in high school. I don't think sports are drawing such facilities at the high school level, are they?

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