Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Jennifer Ellison Brown | The impact of physical education and sport

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Participation in physical education and sport has generated a considerable amount of discussion among educators, students, parents, and, most recently, political groups.

Those individuals who are opposed to student participation in sport or physical activities most frequently are concerned about their effect on academic achievement.

The findings of a group of studies indicated that participation in sport increased students' overall interest and commitment to schooling, as well as their engagement in more student-teacher contact, more positive attitudes about schooling, and more parent-school contact.

Research interests have, over the years, concentrated on the relationships of participation in physical activities, on academic achievement and personality development.


Positive effects


Interestingly, the result on most occasions posits the positive effect of physical activity on learning. It may be explained that students do have some spare time, which, if not used in sport, will be spent in some other ways.

In fact, it pays to involve students in physical activity. Learning does not take place only in classrooms. Many students also need organised sessions of physical activity and after-school period of independent work in order to master some area in their schoolwork.

A number of researchers focused on the influences of physical activity and sport participation on various psychosocial aspects of high-school students. One such benefit is that participation in physical activity could provide extrinsic rewards to students and help them form social bonds and relationships within school.

Advocates of physical activity Fretwell, (1931) claim that this aspect of education, whether formal or otherwise, has a good deal to contribute to developing good citizens. The findings of Yee Yong Fung (1991) have convincingly rejected a concept posited by some individuals that participation in sport activities is a waste of valuable studying time.

He believed that longer, more intense physical activity can help maintain cognitive skills.

Researchers Chadzcko-zajko (1991) and Madden et al (1989) believe that physical activity can help preserve brain function by improving blood flow to the brain and helping to stimulate the growth of nerve cells in a brain region involved in memory function. Thus, the researchers concluded by saying that their study suggests that being physically active could keep the brain fit.

According to a recent study by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in physical activity and other after-school programmes are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children's risk of health-related issues, becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioural problems.

In Hong Kong, the need for more physical activity was stressed after the social disturbances in 1966 and 1967. Today, a typical secondary school in Hong Kong provides its students with about 30 different kinds of extra-curricular activities, which include physical activities, which are coordinated by a senior teacher (Fung, Sin, & Mak, 1988).

Similarly, Austin (1984) and Pascarella & Smart (1991) postulate that sport participation was shown to be instrumental in enhancing the participants' satisfaction with college experience to strive for the attainment of their educational goals.

Another body of literature focused on the association between sport participation and academic achievement of high school students.

A study published by the American Sports Institute (1996) reported on the effects of a yearlong high-school course programme which used sports to enhance academic achievement. The grade point average (GPA) was the primary measure for evaluating the programme results.

Analysis of the study's data revealed that the programme students outperformed those in the control group on all of the applicable measures, including GPA and academic eligibility for extra-curricular activities. These findings showed that by participating in the programme, students of the programme improved their academic performance as measured by overall GPA.

The impact of sport participation on academic orientation was the focus of a number of studies. These findings were opposite to the notion that involvement in physical activities was detrimental to educational achievement of students.