Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 How does being a student athlete affect performance in the classroom? By: Matthew Krawczyk UNC Charlotte English 1103 Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 Introduction: I am very interested in sports, and was a high school golfer throughout my high school career. My discourse community is my high school golf team and I am going to look at the effects of being on a sports team has on academic performance in the classroom. A student athlete, as defined by the Oregon legal glossary, is a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. Student athletes play a large role in representing their schools on the playing field. However, one thing that is often overlooked in this era of multi-million dollar profits is the toll playing a sport in school has on the student's academic performance. Student athletes have a hard time balancing their lives on the field and in the classroom, which ultimately affects their GPA. Student athletes make an enormous commitment to the school once they decide to become student athletes. Student athletes are required to balance their lives on the field with their lives in the classroom, which is often very difficult. I am going to research the GPA's of student athletes versus the overall GPA's of college students around the country, and compare the results. Most college students are admitted to college based on their potential to benefit from an institution's programs and educational opportunities, but many student-athletes are admitted for their potential to provide benefits for the institutions (Hildenbrand 1). This is a sad statement, but it is true. Colleges rely on sports to spread their popularity and generate revenue to support the college's expansion or academic causes. This can be seen in the world of college football today. Television has provided colleges with a spectacle for which they try to become the most popular school for a given sport. There are millions of dollars involved with college sports and the athletes receive compensation in the form of scholarships for their hard work on the field. However, many former college athletes and critics believe the student athletes should be paid for their performance on the field. This has been a hot topic in college football over the past few Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 years due to many schools being put on probation and suspension because their athletes received improper benefits for their performance on the playing field. But with all of this talk going on about payment, the most important aspect of these athletes is being overlooked, and that is their performance in the classroom. The purpose of going to college is obtaining a degree and learning information and skills that will one day lead to a successful career. Student athletes in the revenue-generating sports at some of the most successful universities are rarely expected to be stellar in the classroom, as long as they display their skills on the playing field (Hildenbrand 1). This is a strong contradiction to the main purpose of college in my opinion, which is to achieve the highest grades possible. Many other people would view college differently than I do. For instance a basketball phenom who has been hailed as the next best thing, may view college as a bad thing by requiring him to play for free for a year, instead of being paid to play for a professional team. One of the sources I used was an article that was published in the University of Iowa's campus newspaper. The article follows a Hawkeye football player as he manages his hectic schedule that comes with being an athlete in college. I used this article in my exploration because it is a one-on-one interview with a young student athlete that chronicles his everyday life and makes it available for the public to read. The article is titled "Athlete first, student second", which I thought was an interesting way of describing someone who is a college athlete. This title led me to become curious as to what the daily life of an athlete in college entailed that called for the title to be written in such a manner. The young man the article is about is named Kevonte Martin-Manley, and the article picks up with him on Halloween night 2012. Rather than going out to parties like the majority of college students do on Halloween, Kevonte is bowling with three of his team mates. He states that this is the only thing "that doesn't have to do with football Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 of school" for him. Based on interviews this paper conducted, it was found that the average Hawkeye athlete devotes at least 30 hours a week to their sports activities. This is not even counting the time they spend doing homework and studying. This is eye-opening for me, because I had a tryout to play on the golf team here at Charlotte, and could not find a way to balance my schoolwork with my golf practice, so I ultimately decided to hold off on the golf until next year when I develop superior study skills. Kevonte is also quoted as saying "they say you're here for school... But if you break down our schedule, how can you expect an athlete's No. 1 focus to be on school?" However, another point that is brought up in this article is how student athletes are able to become leaders around campus in spite of their status as a student athlete. For example, Nile Kinnick, Iowa's lone Heisman trophy winner, was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the student-body president his senior year (Martin 1). This is a very important point that instigated further research into this topic. The next source that was used, was an article titled "Academic Motivation and the Student Athlete." This article was written by graduate students at UC Berkeley in California. The abstract of this article states that "the achievement motivation of 361 Division 1 athletes was studied." University student athletes present an apparent motivational contradiction (Simons 151). This is the opening sentence of the article and it highlights how athletes in college are very motivated to do well in their respective sports, but lack that same motivation in the classroom. This is a very accurate statement, as can be seen in the amount of time student athletes spend practicing their sport compared to the time they spend studying. Student athletes devote upwards of 25 hour a week when their sport is in season, miss numerous classes for university-sanctioned athletic competitions, and deal with fatigue and injuries as a result from their devotion (Simons 151). The article also states that "female and nonrevenue athletes (sports other than football and Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 basketball) seem more willing to transfer their motivation from their sport to the classroom, which can be seen by their superior academic success." The participants of this study were 361 student athletes enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley during the 1993-1994 academic year (Simons 153). Almost two thirds of the surveyed athletes were males (63.3%) (Simons 153). Of the student athletes, 20.8% participated in revenue sports and 79.2% participated in nonrevenue sports. The athletes were questioned on major categories such as: background factors, cognitive factors, and motivation. Background factors included demographics and revenue/nonrevenue sport status (Simons 154). The cognitive factors included high school GPAs, SAT scores, and the cumulative university GPA. The results of these questions allowed the researchers to classify the athletes as: success-oriented, over strivers, failure-avoiders, and failure-acceptors. The results of this study show that failure-avoiders and failure-acceptors were poorer academic performers than success-oriented student athletes and over strivers. The point of using this source in my paper is to show that college is a lot about motivation and not necessarily how smart one may be. If you put in the long hours and study your hardest, you can achieve academic success. This is an idea that needs to be relayed to student-athletes more in my opinion, because not all of these athletes are going to make it in the pros, but they will need to be able to support their families in the future. The next source that was used was an academic paper that was written by Kasandra J. Hildenbrand, while working on her Doctor of Philosophy. The paper is titled "An examination of college student athletes' academic achievement." The article states that a typical student is admitted to college in order to benefit from the institution, whereas student athletes are admitted for their ability to benefit the institution (Hildenbrand 70). This conflict of interest has been in higher education since athletics first became a fixture among colleges and universities Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 (Hildenbrand 70). Athletes are also underprepared when they enter college and are not expected to excel in the classroom, as long as they display their talents to the thousands of fans of their respective school. The article states that research on the academic implications of those participating in college athletics are mixed because of the amount of variables involved in the investigation. This study tried to look at ACT composite score of student athletes and determine if this had any correlation in the college GPA of student athletes. What was found is that there was a correlation between ACT score and college GPA, but once the athlete status was applied to the data, there was no significant variation. The fact that no statistical significance was found when the athletic status was applied is consistent with what Shulman and Bowen found in their book The Game of Life, which was published in 2001(Hildenbrand 71). The authors hypothesized that their lack of statistical significance was due to the low number of comparable nonathletic peers to athletes when conducting their statistical analysis. This is true because athletes are unique with their physical abilities and there are not many non athletes that possess this same ability, or they would also be student athletes. Also student athletes made up such a small percentage of the student body graduating that year, 1-2%. This small sample size likely led to these findings. Next this article looked at the percent graduation rates among student athletes at Kansas State University from 1993-1997. The results were consistent with the above in that there was not any statistical significance that was found between the graduation rates of athletes versus the general student population. The results of this study have positive implications for those concerned about the academic progress of college students (Hildenbrand 76). Athletes are graduating at similar, and sometimes higher, rates than non-athletes, indicating that participation on athletic trams does not affect college graduating GPA. Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 The next article that was used was published in the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics. It is titled “Do Athletic Scholarships Impact Academic Success of Intercollegiate Student-Athletes: An Exploratory Investigation” and was written by Paul R. Milton, Dana Freeman, and Lisa M. Williamson. The purpose of this study was to identify whether athletic scholarships play a role in academic success by determining if there was a difference in academic performance between athletic scholarship student-athletes and on-athletic scholarship student athletes as measured by cumulative collegiate GPA (Milton, Freeman, and Williamson 329). The evaluation of this source led me to many statistics on GPA of college athletes which broadened my knowledge and reversed my initial thought that student-athletes had GPAs that are far inferior to the general student population. Understanding the academic challenges facing collegiate student-athletes is a complex task (Milton, Freeman, and Williamson 330). However, scholarly research, and articles like this, are helping universities better serve their athletes and ultimately improve their cumulative GPAs. One traditional assumption about college athletes is that they perform better during the season of competition compared to outside the season of competition. This is thought to happen because the athlete has a more structured environment during the season meeting with coaches and advisors that are making sure they are remaining eligible for competition. However, a 2008 study involving over 65,000 student athletes found the opposite to be the case (Milton, Freeman, and Williamson 330). It was once believed that student-athletes could benefit from longer playing seasons, but this data does not support the idea (Milton, Freeman, and Williamson 330). Another point that is brought up in the article relates to football players and how some of them succeed in their academic studies, while others become detached and fall academically. Lang, Dunham, and Alpert reported that high school GPA, a repeated year in high school, academic motivation, a history of trouble, mother’s education level, Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 and whether the athlete graduated from a private high school were variables that predicted the success of athletes in college, or the lack thereof. In a 2006 study by Umbach, Palmer, Kuh and Hannah found that male student athletes achieved slightly lower GPAs than their non-athlete male counterparts, while, conversely, female students had GPAs similar to female non-athletes. A private Division II college in rural Ohio was the subject of a 2011 study that evaluated 455 student-athletes. The results of this study indicate a significant difference in the GPA of scholarship versus non-scholarship athletes at the university. Student-athletes who were awarded an athletic scholarship were more likely to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher than the student athletes that were not on scholarship, 33.4% compared to 19.7%. This indicates that if an athlete is only scholarship, they are more likely to put more effort into their schoolwork because they are receiving expensive schooling for free or reduced rates and do not want to lose that scholarship. These scholarship student athletes also realize that they are given an opportunity to graduate from college with little to no student debt; something that it not taken lightly due to the cost of a college education. That motivation ultimately drives these athletes to performing better in the classroom. This study provides similar evidence to what is becoming an increasing body of knowledge regarding intercollegiate student-athlete performance in the classroom (Milton, Freeman, and Williamson 335). The conclusion gained from this article is that student athletes that are on scholarship have something motivating them that walk-on athletes do not have, a scholarship. This scholarship provides an incentive for these athletes to remain in school and perform at their highest level in the classroom, which ultimately lead to a higher GPA. Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 Works Cited Comeaux, Eddie. "Predictors of Academic Achievement among Student-Athletes in the Revenue-Producing Sports of Men's Basketball and Football." The Sport Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. Comeaux's article outlines the substantial amount of research that has been conducted in order to predict the academic achievement of student athletes based on demographics and psychological variables. Explains how the environment that the athletes live in can affect their motivation and ultimately affect the outcome of their academic achievements. Hildenbrand, Kasandra J. "AN EXAMINATION OF COLLEGE STUDENT ATHLETES' ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT." N.p., 2005. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 An academic paper that examines statistical data relating to student athletes and their test scores, both in high school and in college. Provides statistical evidence as to if there is a difference in the GPAs of college athletes and college students who do not play a sport. Also analyzes the ACT scores of college athletes and determines if college athletes were underperforming in college relative to their high school test scores. Martin, Ian. "Athlete First, Student Second: Examining the Life of an Iowa Student-athlete - The Daily Iowan." Athlete First, Student Second: Examining the Life of an Iowa Studentathlete. N.p., 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. This article follows the life of a collegiate wide receiver for the University of Iowa. Outlines the day to day life of an athlete and highlights the difficulties these athletes face academically because of their commitment play sports for the school. Goes on to say that the student athletes at Iowa had the same GPA of non-athletes at the school. Milton, Paul R. "Do Athletic Scholarships Impact Academic Success of Intercollegiate." N.p., 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. The purpose of this study was to identify whether athletic scholarships play a role in academic success by determining if there was a difference in academic performance between male and female athletic scholarship student-athletes and non-athletic scholarship student-athletes as measured by cumulative collegiate GPA. Study found that female student athletes had a higher GPA than their male counterparts, which led me into more research to find the reason behind this. Simons, Herbert D. Academic Motivation and the Student Athlete. Rep. www-gse.berkeley.edu, Mar.-Apr. 1999. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. Matthew Krawczyk English 1103 Examines the contradiction between student athletes and their strong motivation to exceed on the field and the occasional lack of motivation they demonstrate in the classroom. Discusses the difficulty student athletes face when trying to balance academics with their desire to achieve athletic supremacy. Reflection: Since the last draft that was submitted I have added 5 pages of material. My last submission was not up to my standards and this one, while much better, it is still not completed. I still have one source I am going to evaluate. At the time I am turning this in, I am writing on that other source which will likely get me to around nine pages. I will then have a conclusion that outlines my findings and wraps up my exploratory essay on the effects of being a student athlete on your cumulative GPA in college.