There have been many, many studies conducted to prove the positive effects of participation in high school sports. Too often, the emphasis is on winning or losing. And often times, these benefits are overlooked.

Participation in high school activities is a valuable part of the overall high school experience. We consider our programs an extension of the classroom, almost like a “7th-period” class. Traveling and club sports are great, but high school activities support the academic mission of our schools. Students who compete in high school activity programs make higher grades and have better attendance.

A Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) survey of 300 high schools showed that the average GPA of a student-athlete was 2.84, compared with 2.68 for the non-participating student. And that student-athlete missed an average of only 7.4 days of school each year, compared with 8.8 for the non- participating student.

Activity programs fulfill students’ basic needs, help in students’ attitudes towards self and school, and minimize dropout and discipline problems. Students who spend no time in co-curricular activities are 49 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents than those who spend one to four hours per week in co-curricular activities.

From a cost standpoint, activity programs are an exceptional bargain when matched against the overall school district’s educational budget. When any school district is faced with budget cuts, athletics are often one of the first programs to be cut. Our athletic budget is about 1 percent of the district’s total operating budget.

Co-curricular activities teach life-long lessons that lead to better citizens. Teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline, and hard work are just a few of the life skills students learn through athletics.

Participation in activity programs yields positive results after high school as well. Participation is often a predictor of later success – in college, a career, and becoming a contributing, healthy member of society. Literally thousands of leaders in business, government, education, service organizations, and local communities can trace their earliest experiences in leadership to participation in athletics and other co-curricular programs.

Last, but certainly not least, participation in athletics helps students create a healthy, active lifestyle for the rest of their lives. I encourage every Park High School student to get involved in any of our co-curricular activities. The benefits are endless.