The Case for High School Activities

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) designates October as “National High School Activities Month.” Each week in October is given a theme for interested schools nationwide to create initiatives celebrating the gamut of sports, clubs and other high school activities. Schools are encouraged to promote the values inherent in high school athletics and other activities such as speech, music, drama, band and spirit squads. Citizenship and emphasis on sportsmanship are also part of the focus for the month. (See schedule below)

 

October 3-8 National Sportsmanship, Fan Appreciation and PA Announcers Week
October 10-15 National Performing Arts Appreciation Week
October 17-22 National Coaches / Sponsors / Advisors / Officials Appreciation Week
October 24-29 National Community Service / Youth Awareness Appreciation Week
 
At a cost of only one to three percent (or less in many cases) of an overall school’s budget, high school activity programs are one of the best bargains around. It is in these vital programs – sports, music, speech, drama, debate – where young people learn lifelong lessons as important as those taught in the classroom.
 
Unfortunately, there appears to be a creeping indifference toward support for high school activity programs by the general public. This neglect undermines the educational mission of our schools and the potential prosperity of our communities. There is no better time than today to assert “The Case for High School Activities”. Education and community leaders across the nation should be aware of the benefits of the variety of high school activities and that these programs must be kept alive. The NFHS/GHSA and its memberships believe interscholastic sports and fine arts activities promote citizenship and sportsmanship. They instill a sense of pride in community, teach life-long lessons of team work and self-discipline and facilitate the physical and emotional development of our nation’s youth.
 
Many case studies in a number of national settings underscore the value of high school co-curricular and extra curricular activities. The benefits can be described in three broad categories:
 
  • Activities Support the Academic Mission of Schools: They are not a diversion but rather an extension of a good educational program. Students who participate in activity programs tend to have higher grade-point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems than other students, generally.
  • Activities are Inherently Educational: Activity programs provide valuable lessons for practical situations – teamwork, sportsmanship, winning and losing and hard work. Through participation in activity programs, students learn self-discipline, build self-confidence and develop skills to handle competitive situations. These are qualities the public expects schools to produce in students so that they become responsible adults and productive citizens.
  • Activities Foster Success in Later Life: Participation in high school activities is often a predictor of later success – in college, a career and becoming a contributing member of society. Studies have shown a higher percentage of successful corporate executives participated in sports during high school. Additionally, many of these business leaders were involved in student government, music offerings, school publications and a variety of community activities.
 
Activity programs fulfill students’ basic needs, help in students’ attitudes towards self and others and reduce dropout and discipline
problems. Overall, activity programs are an exceptional bargain for our schools and communities.
 
Gary Phillips, Executive Director