Here’s a study on the effect of college football success on non-athlete academic performance. The authors found an inverse relationship between football success and male grades relative to female grades. The lastparagraph concludes with a warning for higher education.
“As such, our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education. At the same time, we view our research as taking one of the ﬁrst steps towards documenting the non-monetary costs associated with college athletics. Whether it is desirable to be investing large amount amounts of public and student money in college sports requires a broad consideration of non-monetary costs, monetary costs, in addition to the beneﬁts that might be generated in the form of social solidarity and charitable donations.”
In the very beginning of the article there’s an intriguing quote by Charles T. Clotfelter, author of Big-Time Sports in American Universities,
“Tailgaiting rituals, painted faces, and screaming fans are part of American higher education as surely as physics labs and seminars on Milton. . . Big-time athletics is too important to be relegated entirely to the sports pages. . .At issue is whether the university entertainment enterprise is a threat to American higher education or instead is one of its reasons for success.”
Something to ponder!
Here’s the full abstract of the study:
We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team’s success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Using survey data, we find that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving.
Lindo, Jason; Swenson, Isaac D.; and Glen R. Waddell. (2011). Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement? NBER Working Paper No. 17677. JEL No. H0,I23,J16.