Comparison of Academic and Behavioral Performance Between Athletes and Non-Athletes
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The Toronto Charter for Physical Activity (2010) and several national physical activity plans advocate sports participation as an important part of population targeted physical activity for youth. Emerging research evidence also suggests that sports participation during adolescents is linked to significant positive correlations with academic and behavioral performance. The purpose of this study was to compare academic and behavioral performance between male and female public school athletes (Total N=11,139; 38% Female) and non-athletes (Total N=23,891; 52% Female) in a convenient, ethnicity diverse, sample (grades 7-12) from the state of Texas (USA). We examined the passing rates of individual athletes and non-athletes on standardized tests (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, TAKS) for math, language arts, reading, writing, science, and social studies. We also examined the percentage of athletes and non-athletes for being "at risk," for dropping out of school and for the total average number of disciplinary actions. Chi-Square statistical analyses comparing athletes to non-athletes showed that athletes scored significantly better (p<0.05) on all standardized tests compared to non-athletes (passing rate ranges ranged from 77.1% to 92.9% versus 27.7% to 66.5% respectively). Athletes were at lower risk for dropout compared to non-athletes (35.6% versus 49.24%; p<0.05), and they had fewer disciplinary actions (mean of 0.85 per athletes per year versus 1.23 for non-athletes; ANOVA, p<0.05). Our results support the research findings of others that participation in school sports is positively correlated to better academic and behavioral performances for athletes compared to non-athletes.