Data shows involvement in extracurricular activities helps increase overall GPA, decreases discipline issues, decreases attendance issues, improves standardized test scores, as well as providing many more intangible benefits.
But often times, athletes are criticized to a degree that makes the sport no longer enjoyable, which can negatively impact the student athlete’s successes.
You see it watching little league, AAU basketball, pee-wee football and other youth sporting games; officials don’t even have time to blow the whistle before they are being chastised by a crowd of parents, players, spectators and unfortunately, even members of the coaching staff at times. In return, we are facing an official shortage in high school athletics across the state.
Prosper Independent School District is trying a different approach that Prosper Athletic Director Valerie Little calls Educational Athletics.
Educational Athletics is a community approach. A letter sent to all PISD athletes read, “Prosper ISD student athletes have the expectation they will consistently work to improve themselves, their teammates and the game as a whole. Prosper ISD Parents will be supportive and positive at all times and help their student athletes to absorb the life lessons being taught. Athletics is an educational process which requires all three vital components – coaches, parents, and student athletes – to unite together to create the best possible educational athletic experience.”
The message parents deliver at home can also help reinforce the components of Educational Athletics. At the middle school parent presentation, Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), showed data to parents reporting their student athletes’ most dreaded part of the game was the trip home with his or her parents.
PISD is trying to change that statistic.
“When a student athlete makes a mistake, instead of throwing up your hands and yelling ‘What are you doing?’, take a moment and realize it takes courage to participate in a sport in front of peers and other critical adults,” said Little. “Our job as parents is to foster their love of the sport, not make them regret trying.”
Being involved in athletics demands a great deal of time and dedication from coaches, players, and parents alike. Players will reflect attitudes, beliefs and work ethic of those around them.
“When we teach them these positive values, it translates into success on the field of play,” Little states. “And it also means that our players will have discipline, responsibility and a strong work ethic. Never assume that each student athlete is born with these traits, rather these traits need to be brought out through a developmental process.”
Educational Athletics focuses on academics, a positive school culture, character curriculum, positive reinforcement, productive citizenship, responsibility, and overcoming adversity.
“A very small percentage of high school athletes go on to become collegiate athletes, but 100% of them go on to become members of society and It is our goal at Prosper ISD Athletics to develop better student athletes and to develop better people,” said Little.
Renee Marler | Renee@CedarbrookMedia.Com