NFHS Outlines Benefits of High School Sports

Madison (OnFocus) – The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and its member state associations champion interscholastic sports and performing arts activities because they promote citizenship and sportsmanship in the 11 million students who participate nationwide. Activity programs instill a sense of pride in school and community, teach lifelong lessons and skills of teamwork and self-discipline and facilitate the physical and emotional development of the nation’s youth. 

There is no better time than now to assert “The Case for High School Activities.” Education and community leaders across America need the facts contained in this material documenting the benefits of participation in interscholastic sports, music, theatre, debate, and other activities, to provide support needed for these programs. These activities provide important developmental experiences that enrich a student’s high school experience and entire life, and these programs must be protected and sustained.


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 today’s best bargains. It is in these vital programs – sports, music, speech, theatre, debate – where young people learn lifelong lessons that complement the academic lessons taught in the classroom. From a cost standpoint, activity programs are an exceptional bargain when matched against the overall school district’s education budget.

Examinations of various school districts’ budget information across the country reveal that activity programs make up very small percentages of school budgets. In the 2014-15 school year, the city of Chicago’s Public School Board of Education’s budget was $4.93 billion. The activity programs portion was  $17.6 million. In the Los Angeles Unified school district, activity programs received $6.33 million of the overall $7.27 billion budget for 2014-15. Finally, in the Miami – Dade, Florida school district, its Board of Education had a 2014-15 overall budget of $3.7 billion dollars, while setting aside $17.2 million for activity programs. In all of these examples, the budget for school activity programs is less than one percent of the overall district’s budget. Considering the benefits, which are outlined below, at such small proportions of overall school district budgets, school activity programs are one of the most effective investments being made in secondary school education programs today.

 For the complete article from the National Federation of High School Associations, CLICK HERE

The NFHS supports co-curricular endeavors through many avenues, including:

  • Rules-writing Process – The NFHS produces more than eight million copies of publications and support materials annually for 14 rules books covering 16 sports. The NFHS publishes case books, officials’ manuals, handbooks, and simplified and illustrated books in many sports. 
  • The NFHS Coaches Education Program – The NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching Course provides a unique student-centered curriculum for interscholastic coaches that assists coaches in creating a healthy and age-appropriate sport experience. The course can be taken either online or in a face-to-face blended delivery option. With over than one million courses viewed and taken, this tool enhances the education for the adults who have committed to the betterment of their young people.   More information can be accessed by going to
  • National High School Activities Month – The nation’s high schools are encouraged to promote the values inherent in high school athletics, speech, music, theatre, debate and spirit squads during this celebration in the month of October.
  • Public Service Announcements – Various sportsmanship messages are created and distributed in electronic and radio formats, as well as healthy lifestyle messages that tackle difficult but current topics such as steroid usage and hazing education.
  • High School Activities: A Community Investment in America – This presentation is an NFHS educational product. It documents the value of high school athletic and fine arts activities through an excellent PowerPoint presentation with videos on a CD-ROM. You can order this CD-ROM by calling NFHS customer service at 800-776-3462.
  • SPORTSMANSHIP. IT’S UP TO YOU.™ TOOLKIT – This initiative is designed to improve sportsmanship in schools and the community. Sportsmanship is an issue that affects everyone. The “Sportmanship, It’s Up To You” campaign is based on respect and involves personal responsibility. It starts with a mindset and ends with behavioral choices. In this kit you will find the necessary information and media resources to implement a successful sportsmanship awareness and improvement program in your school. The campaign comes on 2 DVD’s. The resource DVD contains the implementation guide (pdf), overview video, motivational video to share with your school and community, various customizable posters, live-read scripts for school annoucements and radio spots, Student pedge cards, a logo/photo library, and guidelines. The presentation DVD is for a large audience. The disc houses a full-screen, full resolution videos. Videos included are the campaign overview, motivational video, and 3 broadcast PSA’s.  You can order this toolkit by calling NFHS Customer Service at 800-776-3462.

 Benefits of Co-curricular or Education-based Activities

  • 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 students generally.
  • Activities are Inherently Educational. Activity programs provide valuable lessons and skills for practical situations – like teamwork, fair play, 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 students need if they are to become responsible adults, productive citizens and skilled professionals.
  • Activities Promote Health and Well-being. Mental and physical health are improved by through activities. Self-concept, self-image, physical activity, and weight management are a few of these health benefits realized through activity participation.
  • 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 healthy member of society.

Following are some of these benefits identified more specifically and documented. These benefits are described in several categories that are listed immediately below. This version of the Case for High School Activities compared to past versions presents additional and more recent study results and includes additional categories of benefits. Several of the studies below have findings that fit into more than one category. In most cases the study was listed in the category that fit best for most of its findings, and in some cases the other findings for the study (that may have fit better in another category) were also mentioned alongside the major findings. Only a couple of studies were listed in two categories because the study had major findings in both categories. While many of the studies below refer to “extracurricular activities,” the NFHS prefers the use of the terms “education-based” or “co-curricular” activities to indicate that activities support the academic mission of schools, are inherently educational, and are a significant part of the school or education system.

 For the complete article from the National Federation of High School Associations, CLICK HERE

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]