People who hold the notion that playing sports is not good for studies, take note! A Michigan State University (MSU) study has shown that recreational sports can improve the grades of students and such students were less likely to drop or fail any classes in their first year and moved to the second year. The research was published in the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice.
Play Sports, Move On To Next Year
Among nearly 1,800 recent freshmen at MSU, students who played intramural sports averaged a 3.25 grade point average at the end of their first year compared to a 3.07 GPA for those who didn't play.
But it's more than just better grades. Those who participated in recreational sports were less likely to drop or fail any classes in their first year and were 40 per cent more likely to move onto the second year. They also were 2.5 times more likely to come back to the university.
How Come This Happened?
At the end of the year, students who played sports dropped or failed a total average of six credits compared to 7.7 credits among non-playing students.
Almost two credit difference each year can have a big effect on the time it takes to graduate, and even more importantly, how much damage the pocketbook takes.
Sports Plays Important Role In Student's Success
The research takes an apples-to-apples approach and brings the most solid evidence to date that intramural sport plays an important role in a student's success. Previous research has relied mostly on survey results, but Vasold dug deeper and was able to pull hard numbers from MSU's registrar office.
Students were matched based on factors including high school GPA, gender, race, socioeconomic status, if they lived on campus, and if they were a first-generation student. Then they were compared to whether they participated in intramural sports.
"The only thing that was different between these students was whether they played or not. Everything else was matched," said Jim Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology and co-author of the study.
"You can't just say one person was smarter in high school than the other or his or her socioeconomic status was better. We addressed all that, with all things being equal," he said.
Too Much Of Anything ...
According to the researchers, the sweet spot seems to be anywhere between four to seven different activities throughout the year, which is new data discovered in another soon-to-be-published study led by Vasold and Pivarnik.
"Don't go crazy. Don't join 20 teams. Grab some friends, find a moderate number of activities and get involved in something different. The four-to-seven range seems to be effective and is linked to a higher GPA," Pivarnik said.
Activities can range from playing an intramural sport like ultimate frisbee a few times a month to taking an aerobics class at a fitness centre each week.
Currently, about 10,000, or 20 per cent, of MSU students participate in intramural sports, which are slightly higher than the national average of 17 per cent, according to the American College Health Association.
There are so many different ways to participate. And the best part is you don't have to be an all-star basketball player or have played ultimate frisbee before. You can still join a team. It's an inclusive environment and helps students do better and creates a new home!
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