Studies show that youth sports and extracurricular activities promote student achievement and play a critical role in the development of future leaders. However, many of these activities at the high school level are in danger due to severe underfunding and budget cuts. Here’s why we should be concerned – and here’s what we can do about it.
In fact, when it comes to developing successful, well-rounded individuals, activities matter just as much as academics.
This perspective may seem controversial, but it’s exactly what some leading education researchers argue as part of what they call the total education process.1
The total education process is a holistic approach to teaching and learning with a focus on developing well-integrated and balanced individuals. As opposed to more traditional education philosophies that place a singular focus on academics, total education suggests that in order to equip students with the social and emotional skills they need to be successful in all areas of their lives, they must receive preparation through extracurricular activities in addition to the standard education they receive through academics.
The power of activities
The benefits of extracurricular activities are well-substantiated.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) found that high school students involved in activities tend to have better grades, higher test scores, and an increased likelihood of continuing their education at the college level.2 82% of adults agree that athletics equip people to be better team players in their career, and 77% of adults agree that athletics prepare people to manage their tasks of their jobs more successfully.3
Further studies have shown that student involvement in extracurricular activities leads to fewer dropouts and develops “transfer training,” the process of using newly acquired knowledge and skills in application context to solve new problems or tasks.4
In other words – both academics and extracurricular activities are vital to student success.
In the interest of developing future leaders, both sides of the equation are essential. But unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to ensure students have access to extracurricular opportunities. While public primary and secondary education is affordable to most families, extracurricular activities are not. As a result, extracurricular participation is waning while participation costs are rising, and a serious threat to the total education process has emerged.
Declining participation and rising fees
In 2012, only 1.87% of the total school district budget in our home state of Washington was earmarked for extracurricular activities.5
In the time since, the burden of financing the rising costs of interscholastic activities has fallen increasingly in the hands of the very people for whom the activities are intended. And with little or no government regulation over pay-to-play fees, the amount to play varies widely from district to district.
Of course, this problem is hardly restricted to Washington.6 In the state of Michigan, a study of 558 schools found that fees up to $100 caused a 10% decrease in the number of students coming out to play; charges up to $200 precipitated a 20% decline.7 Meanwhile the Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled that state funding for education, which includes budget for extracurricular activities, is “constitutionally inadequate.”8
With relentless budget cuts across local, state, and federal levels, the underfunding of athletics and activities looks to be an issue that is here to stay. But if activities and athletics truly are key to the total education process, financial resources are going to be necessary to ensure those opportunities are provided to students. In most communities across the United States, that requires fundraising.
Traditional school fundraising methods, like popcorn, cookie dough, and gift card sales, often create more concerns than they alleviate. These fundraising tactics place undue stress and time burdens on educators, coaches, and program leaders – as well as on students, parents – resulting in less time and energy dedicated to learning and leading.
In recent years, various online fundraising services have emerged to try to fill the void; crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo allow groups and teams to channel the power of online giving. Though an improvement over product sales, they still demand significant time and energy from educators, coaches, and students to promote the campaign, and are ill-equipped to handle the nuances of school funding regulations and compliance.
There’s only one fundraising solution available that is built specifically for educational program leaders and the students they serve.
Snap! Raise is trusted by over 35,000 extracurricular groups and youth sports teams throughout the country for their fundraising needs. Snap! Raise understands the critical importance of total education process for students and will help you and your community fight to preserve it. Your program doesn’t have to be the next victim.
Activities matter – but so does fundraising. Learn how Snap! Raise is specifically designed to help student groups and teams of all varieties achieve their fundraising goals!Learn more
Cam Taylor manages sponsorships and partnerships at Snap! Raise. He brings expertise in high school athletics and extracurricular activities from his time at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association where he worked closely with its member schools.
1. Las Gourges, Leo. “What is Total Education” http://www.sote.qld.edu.au/articles/WhatIsTotalEducation.html
3. Harris Interactive. Individuals Who Participated In Sports While in School Earn More and Are More Likely to Have Gone to College. (2015, March 10). Retrieved July 20, 2015.
4. Bradley, J. L., & Conway, P. F. (2016). A dual step transfer model: Sport and non-sport extracurricular activities and the enhancement of academic achievement. British Educational Research Journal,42(4), 703-728.
5. Activities Matter. WIAA http://www.wiaa.com/ConDocs/Con1476/ACTIVITIES%20MATTER!.pdf
6. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/a-punishing-decade-for-school-funding
7. SportsSignUp Play. https://www.siplay.com/blog/what-if-you-cant-pay-to-play
8. Kansas City Star. http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article176606731.html