From the Cheap Seats

In today’s world, money shortages and cutbacks have become more than just water-cooler talk between co-workers.

Teachers, administrators, educators and others have either lost their jobs, or been cut back to help balance the system again due to the silly funding our great state of Arizona gets for schools. No wonder we rank near the bottom in education.

One of the things on the chopping block in schools besides physical education classes, music, art and theater are sports programs.

Although nothing has come to fruition within the athletic departments around the state, or in the Verde Valley for that matter, the need to cut costs always rears its ugly head at athletic programs within our schools.

Let me assure you, however, this would be a bad move on Arizona’s local school boards and city councils.

According to a study done by the National Federation of State High School Associations, there are hundreds of case studies, research papers and documents pointing to a most important fact: Athletics and other forms of school activities are desperately needed.

Generally, to summarize the full extent of the research, students are generally more successful in school if involved in athletics.

Students with the highest classroom attendance are athletes and most have a better grade point average than their peers who don’t participate in sports at all.

Coaches hold their student-athletes accountable for all of the above and more — a higher standard one might say.

Students participating in athletics seem to be more socially involved in other programs besides the normal 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. class time at school. Also, those students who seem to be constantly in trouble with one, the school, or two, the law, or both, aren’t usually participating in athletics.

Now, it’s obvious those who watch the news on television or read it in the newspaper or online see troubled professional athletes’ faces posted all the time for their bad behavior. Sports are held at a higher profile usually, making it instant news.

Are you shaking your head yet?

Research conducted by Skip Dane of Hardiness Research in Casper, Wyo., revealed the following about participation in high school sports:

One, by a 2-to-1 ratio, boys who participate in sports do better in school, do not drop out and have a better chance to get through college. Two, the ratio for girls who participate in sports and do well in school is 3-to-1. Three, about 92 percent of sports participants do not use drugs. Four, school athletes are more self-assured. Five, sports participants take average and above-average classes. Six, sports participants receive above-average grades and perform above average on skills tests. Seven, student-athletes appear to have more parental involvement than other students.

If parents are more involved, it becomes harder for kids to do things they shouldn’t be doing.

A study of 75 Fortune 500 companies, done by the Colorado High School Activities Association, reveals 95 percent of corporate executives at the executive vice president level participated in sports during high school.

Nothing is ever black and white, but according to

S. Dinitz and B.A. Pfau-Vicent in “Self-Concept and Juvenile Delinquency,” a lack of participation in school activities, or sports for that matter, can be associated with a greater likelihood of involvement in delinquent behavior for high school students.


In the end, one can decide what they think about all of these studies, research and hours upon hours of testing that may mean nothing to the average person walking down the street. The fact remains that athletic programs in today’s schools mean a lot to many individuals.

I, for one, am one of those individuals. If it wasn’t for my high school coaches pushing me to do my best, pushing to get me involved in other people’s lives — if it wasn’t for sports, or basketball for that matter, which led me to college, which in turn led to a degree in journalism and a career in sports, writing and coaching, then I don’t know where I would be. That’s the truth.

Let me be case study number infinity.

In fact, making the point that athletics is important in schools may even bother some people, or upset them that such a study was done in the first place. Well, I bet those naysayers weren’t involved in athletics.