MVP: Most Valuable Programs

When professing the values of school sports, one could well start with the word itself:

Values: Instilled by coaches, carried forward by participants
Affordable: Movies, dinner, pro sports? School Sports in a blowout
Local: Watch neighbors play, coach and officiate, with neighbors
Unity: Students don't have to play to be proud of the jerseys
Education: The classroom has no walls, so the lessons have no limits

What's Not to Like?

Some highlights in the argument for School Sports

  • $chool $ports is $$: Is your school thinking of cutting sports? Might as well cut $6,000-$8,000 in funding per student, depending on the location in the state. In today's competitive "school-of-choice" environment, school activities hit a home run with parents shopping for schools. 
  • What a Bargain: Consider that school sports make up approximately 1 to 3 percent of the district's education budget, gaining more students through expanded sports programs is a bargain too good to pass up.
  • Making the Grade: School activities necessitate that minimum academic standards be maintained by participants. These participants often exceed the rest of the student body in GPA. Additionally, the time management skills learned pay even bigger dividends when it comes to school attendance. A recent survey by the Minnesota State High School League revealed an average GPA of 2.84 for student-athletes vs. 2.68 for non-athletes. The student-athlete was also absent a day-and-a-half less than average students. A similar three-year study at one Iowa school showed even greater numbers, and indicated that the more activities the student was involved in, the greater the GPA.
  • A Beautiful Mind: Participation in school activities provides all students – including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, minorities and those with otherwise less than distinguished academic achievements in high school – a measurable gain in college admissions test scores according to researchers writing for the College Entrance Examination Board in 2005.
  • For the Health of It: No involvement in school sports? Various health journals and surveys have come up with these gems:
    • 49 percent more likely to use drugs
    • 33 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes
    • 37 percent more likely to become teen parents
    • More prone to childhood obesity
  • A Captive Audience: School Sports can capitalize on ever-changing society even during this economic downturn. A recent survey in Sports Business Journal indicates fans are working more (40-60 hours per week), and cite the economy, ticket prices and a disconnect with fan base as the top three threats to pro sports. In comparison, School sports calls for little travel time, the most inexpensive spectator entertainment, and the supreme attachment to its followers. As other forms of entertainment price themselves out, School Sports has a natural niche not to be ignored.
  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game: To further illustrate, the cheapest cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game in 2009 -- based on tickets and nominal concessions -- was  $114.24 (Diamondbacks). People can typically get into their local high school games for $5 apiece, with concessions ranging from $1-3 per item, easily less than half the cost of the cheapest pro event.
  • Happy Returns: Participants feel better about their school and their education than students who do not participate. The residual effect is that friends, siblings and -- most importantly -- parents will feel good about the school district in the vital battle for future enrollment numbers.
  • Expand Horizons: Look outside your hallways for assistance.
    • Businesses cutting Regional, Statewide or National sponsorship might not have thought about your school as an important marketing segment. Approach them regarding sponsorships and trade deals.
    • Rather than cut subvarsity programs due to coaching salaries, explore graduate assistants from our many colleges and universities. You may be surprised to find a pipeline of eager, driven, and talented individuals who can fill those spots simple for college credit.
    • Safety is a must. If full-time or part-time athletic trainers are not in the budget, consult with local hospitals for staffing solutions. Or, once again, advertise internships for recent college grads and current college students.

The Power of Sports

The MHSAA believes four core values are at the heart of educational athletics: Sportsmanship, Scholarship, Safety and Scope. All play vital roles in the development of students striving for the ultimate "S," Success in life long after they've left our hallways. The facts in the content of this page and links from this page to various expert resources show an undeniable relationship between high school sports participation and increased chance for post-graduate success.


It's a fact that all people will fail at some juncture in life. Responding to those moments is paramount. Lessons learned in gracefully dealing with adversity in the athletic forum translate to classroom, the home and the workplace. A recent survey of high school principals reveals that 95 percent believe activities teaches lessons students cannot learn in class time alone.


Perhaps the most important aspect of school sports is just that; it's school-based, rooted in education. Minimum academic standards are set as a requirement for athletic participation, thus making activities a privilege. When young people are afforded a privilege, they tend to appreciate it more and work hard to keep it. A 2008 survey confirms that students involved in sports and other school activities achieve higher GPAs than those not involved, and the more activities they are engaged in, the higher the GPAs.


It's not enough to provide students the opportunity to participate. We must do so in the safest environment as possible, always focusing on health awareness and risk minimization. From our Hot Weather Planning Guides, MRSA Alerts and Inclement Weather Statements, emphasis on safety and health are always at the forefront. Yet, in these faltering economic times, school trainers are often among the first cuts. Urge your school districts to consider safety and health among the most important facets of school sports. Check out our list of resources on the left side of this page for athletic training resources.


School sports embraces its local roots. School events attract administrators, teachers,students, parents and community members in one venue. How many other activities can boast such a crowd for a common cause? Time and money are precious commodities these days. It doesn't take much of either to travel to your local high school for an athletic event, whether alone or with your family, when compared to counterparts at the collegiate and professional level. In many areas, school sports are the backbone of the community.