Research Paper on College Student-Athletes and Academic Success

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1511 Words
Date:  2022-09-15


College athletics is one of the most popular extra-curricular activities in the USA. Over the years, American college students have been sparing some time to participate in athletics because it means a lot to them. The curriculum planners and developers have been concerned about athletics because the college students cannot do without it. However, despite its significant contributions, college athletics has been a subject of a heated debate. Whereas there is a section of the population that believes that it is important, there is part of the population which holds the view that college athletics is unnecessary since it negatively impacts on the academic performance of the students (Munoz-Bullon, Sanchez-Bueno & Vos-Saz, 2017). What matters to most high learning institutions when admitting the student-athletes is their ability to perform in college sports to represent the schools in extracurricular activities. As such, during academic examinations, most student-athletes are not prepared because they invest most of their time in sports which leads to poor performance compared to the non-athlete students. Most schools of high learning admit athlete students with low test scores compared to the non-athletic students. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to write a proposal on the positive contributions of athletics on the academic performance of college students.

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Research Questions

What is the relationship between student-athletes and academic success compared to the non-athlete students?

Do college athletes outshine non-athletic students in academics?

Literature Review

The number of high education institutions in the United States of America has significantly increased in the recent past. The number of higher education institutions are increasing due to the high population of young people and demand of high learning education. Athletics simultaneously has grown in many high learning institutions and extra-curricular activities are given precedence. Many schools are increasingly placing greater importance in sporting activities, and many schools are increasing their investment in sporting facilities. Today, sports have become an integral aspect of the American societies which has enhanced their acceptability in higher learning institutions. The government also has tremendously invested in education which has made it a beacon of hope especially for those who come from underprivileged communities. Young people are immersing themselves on sports to become popular and also to earn money because sports is one of the top-earning professions in the United States of America (Grimit, 2014). Both the public and the private sponsors spend a great deal of money on sports and to identify talents which have significantly motivated more young people to engage in sports.

Due to the lucrative nature of sports and the fame that come with it more young people are choosing athletics over academic pursuits which have led to the poor academic performance of the student-athletes. Parents and government officials have also contributed to the higher participation of young people in sports in colleges because sports activities are perceived as character builders and help keep young people away from drugs and gangs. Studies have found out that although it is not all the athletic students who perform poorly a majority of them do not know due to the overemphasis on sports instead of learning (Grimit, 2014). Most athletes worry about their ability to perform well athletically which helps them attain college and university eligibility because most institutions of high learning treat the student-athletes with more leniency regarding test scores compared to non-athletes.

According to the research conducted by Whitsell & Naquin (2016), college athletics has been contributing to the deteriorating of the academic performance of college students. According to this researcher, participation in athletics can affect learners negatively because it consumes a lot of their time, especially during training, workshops, and competitions (Whitsell & Naquin, 2016). This, in the long run, hinders them from engaging in book work hence failing in their examinations. That is why, according to this researcher, student-athletes perform dismally as compared to their non-participating peers. In the study conducted by Horton Jr (2015), it was established that college athletics has a positive contribution towards the academic performance of college students. The research revealed that participation in college athletics gives learners an opportunity to acquire time management skills (Horton Jr, 2015). Whenever they participate in athletics, the learners are guided by professional coaches who are not only concerned about athletic excellence but spare their time to monitor the student's academic performance, class attendance, and submission of the assignments. Such time management skills are valuable because they are translated into academics.

In his studies, Fox, BarrAnderson, NeumarkSztainer & Wall (2010) discovered that there exists a cordial relationship between college athletics and academic excellence. The researchers argue that athletics has a positive contribution towards the improvement of academics because its participation does not start at the college levels-it begins in elementary and continues through high school (Fox, BarrAnderson, NeumarkSztainer & Wall, 2010). College students must, therefore, excel in academics because most of the colleges require student-athletes to mandatorily possess some academic qualifications hence compelling them to work so hard in the classroom. Beron & Piquero (2016), link athletics to college excellence since it boosts the learners' mental health. Research has proven that active participation not only improves physical health but mental health as well (Beron & Piquero, 2016). Meaning, it also jogs the brain and makes it more active. That is why the students who are engaged in athletics perform better than those who are not. Activities such as jogging, press-ups, and numerous physical engagements end up boosting the cognitive capacity of the learners thus helping to improve their academic performance.


Does college athletics contribute to the improvement of the academic performance of students?

The independent variable in the proposal will, hence, be the participation of college students in college athletics as an extra-curricular activity. On the other hand, dependent variables will be the effects of involvement on college athletics on the student-athletes' academic performance, impacts of athletics participation on the student-athletes' GAP, influences of college athletics on the student-athletes' school-drop-out, and graduation rates. These are the variables that will be manipulated to determine the relationship between college athletics and academic excellence of the students.

The hypothesis will be tested by using a survey method. Here, the researcher will have to use a combination of interview and questionnaires to collect the data. After identifying college students-both athletes and non-athletes as a target population, the proportionate sample size will be taken and used to represent the entire community. For one to qualify for selection as a participant, one has to meet the inclusion criteria which will have been set. Once selected, the participant will be engaged in the survey by responding to the questionnaire or attending a 30-minute long interview in which they will respond to a series of relevant and useful questions regarding college athletics and academic performance (Brace, 2018). Some of the questions to be asked will entail the effects of college athletics on time management competencies, the role of athletics on the cognitive growth of the students, the role of coaches on instilling academic discipline on college athletes. Upon successful completion of the data-collection process, data analysis will be done by using statistical methods. However, to ensure that everything is done correctly, the entire research process will have to be done in strict compliance with the ethical principles of confidentiality and safety.


In the institutions of higher learning and high schools, there is a significant concern on the academic performance of the student-athletes. A different hypothesis has been postulated regarding the poor performance of the student's athletes in colleges. One of the hypothesis is that most student-athletes are allowed to proceed to colleges based on their status as athletes and not based on academic performance. As a result, many student-athletes underperform in colleges because they spend most of their time in the field training instead of revising and attending classes like other non-athlete students. Many institutions of learning admit student-athletes in their schools to be able to benefit from their talents especially in inter-school leagues which have become very competitive. There is a growing conflict of interests in high learning institutions admissions as many institutions seek to benefit from the revenue generating sports that continues to become competitive.


Beron, K. J., & Piquero, A. R. (2016). Studying the Determinants of StudentAthlete Grade Point Average: The Roles of Identity, Context, and Academic Interests. Social Science Quarterly, 97(2), 142-160.

Brace, I. (2018). Questionnaire design: How to plan, structure and write survey material for effective market research. Kogan Page Publishers.

Fox, C. K., BarrAnderson, D., NeumarkSztainer, D., & Wall, M. (2010). Physical activity and sports team participation: Associations with academic outcomes in middle school and high school students. Journal of school health, 80(1), 31-37.

Grimit, N. (2014). Effects of student athletics on academic performance. The Journal of Undergraduate Research, 12(1), 5.

Horton Jr, D. (2015). Between a ball and a harsh place: A study of Black male community college student-athletes and academic progress. Community College Review, 43(3), 287-305.

Munoz-Bullon, F., Sanchez-Bueno, M. J., & Vos-Saz, A. (2017). The influence of sports participation on academic performance among students in higher education. Sport Management Review, 20(4), 365-378.

Whitsell, M., & Naquin, M. (2016). An investigation into the relationship among stress, sleep, and academic performance in college athletes. LAHPERD J, 80, 22-27.

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