Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


More than 7.5 million high school students in the United States participate in organized sport according to a survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (National Federation of State high School Associations [NFHS], 2010). Athletic participation is the single most popular school-sponsored extracurricular activity, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender (Miller, Melnick, Barnes, Farrell, & Sabo, 2005; Eccles & Barber, 1999; Eide & Ronan, 2001). With the high popularity of sport participation, the controversy over the effect of athletic participation on academic progress and success continues to linger (Ward, 2008; Marsh, 1993; Miller et al. 2005). Although many of these studies have shown positive correlations between high school athletic participation and academic performance, there still seems to be a question regarding the stigma attached to student athletes and treatment of student-athletes by faculty and non-athlete students; wherein student-athletes are faced with negative stereotypes which depict them as low achievers academically and undeservingly privileged when it comes to academic requirements (Sherman, 1988; Simons, Bosworth, Fujita and Jensen, 2007; Lawrence, Harrison, & Stone, 2009). Bowen & Levin (2005) produced convincing data in their book Reclaiming the Game that highlights certain tensions between academics and athletics. Some of the issues raised in this study relate to the difference in academic preparedness and performance for recruited athletes vs. “walk-ons” in which recruited athletes tend to have more of an advantage when it comes to being admitted despite lower qualifications, and then subsequently demonstrate lower academic performance once they are enrolled.


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