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Your Opinion: Athletics play more than supporting role

Your Opinion: Athletics play more than supporting role

January 14th, 2013 by Jim Marshall, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the local perspective on education and athletics by David Wilson. In the column Wilson states that both components serve a role in the high school.

I agree with that statement. I respectfully disagree with his views that most people earn their living solely off of what they learn in the classroom and that success in the classroom pays the biggest dividend in years to come. He states that academics prepare us to be educated, valuable members of society while athletics enriches the learning experience.

I know many students succeed without athletics but I believe that athletics plays a much more important role than enrichment. I feel there is a 50/50 relationship between athletics and academics in future success for those that choose to participate. I believe this is true of many extra curricular activities.

I asked former athletes, former educators, and community leaders to weigh in on this before I wrote, to make sure I was not biased. Many replied they developed confidence, how to work collaboratively, how to cope with adversity, how to respond to failure, how to set goals, how to perform under pressure and what commitment was and most importantly how to work hard and intelligently over long periods of time to reach a desired goal.

They felt many of these qualities you could not get from the classroom. As a coach, I know that attendance is higher and the drop out rate was lower with athletes. I also know that grades were lower after the seasons were over than during the season.

The following facts on athletics impact to success seem to back me up. First, from the American College Testing Services (ACT) "The one yardstick to predict success is achievement in extracurricular activities, not useful predictors are high A.C.T. scores or high grades." Second from "USA Today" "Seven in 10 Americans say high school athletics teach students lessons they can not learn in the classroom." Last, from "Fortune Magazine" " 95 percent of all Fortune 500 executives participated in high school extracurricular activities, only 47 percent were honor roll students."

I believe our community is testimony to this strong influence of athletics, when you look at our community leaders, top teachers, successful business people and strong volunteers with athletic backgrounds.