Recently, there was a letter to the editor assertion that because students in U.S. high schools placed last when compared worldwide with 20 other nations, it was perhaps due to their involvement in high school athletics. The author of this letter could not have been more ill-informed. Statistics have shown for decades that students involved in extra-curricular activities (athletics, music, drama, forensics, etc.) outperform their fellow students by leaps and bounds. Among other skills that are acquired in these settings, discipline, determination, time management, teamwork, and leadership are particularly important in academic achievement. Many businesses seek out former athletes because of their work ethic and ability to deal with adverse situations.
As an educator for nearly 35 years at a National Exemplary school. I worked with many outstanding students. As a former Division One college athlete who taught Criminal Law and History while coaching, most of my former athletes excelled in the classroom. At AHS, a number of my current athletes are NHS members and Academic All-State recipients. Indeed, there are multiple teams at AHS that have garnered these honors as well. I'm sure the same is true for many of the other extra-curricular participants outside of the athletic realm.
There are many reasons for student failure. Our ever increasingly Liberal, litigious society, a growing lack of respect for public education, lack of discipline at home, decreases in school funding, and the breakdown of the nuclear family are just a few of many reasons. Teachers and administrators are frustrated by new laws and measures than hinder them from dealing with poor performing students. If excellence isn't stressed in the home, it won't magically appear in school. Thankfully, many students and their parents still realize the lessons that can be learned through extra-curricular involvement which leads to academic success.