This independent study thesis explores the effects of athletic participation on academic achievement. The education process could be argued to be the most important to an individuals' personal and social development, with athletics increasingly playing a vital role in this development. This study considers athletic participation a positive factor in the schooling process, and uses Oscar Lewis' "culture of poverty" argument as a basis for that claim. Another theoretical perspective presented here is the "cultural capital" model presented by Pierre Bourdieu. Both of these theories argue that a person's culture will affect the way he/she will approach and benefit from the educational process. A sample of 147 students was collected from Cleveland South High School through the use of a questionnaire that asked for such things as grade level, race, athletic status, and grade point average. The results found that simple participation in athletics did not necessarily improve a student's grade point average. Also, the effects of participating in more than one sport were no different than the effects of participation in only one sport. It was discovered that students at South did very little homework as a whole, and that those that did less homework actually reported having higher grades. The variables that did have an effect on grade point average were the attitudes of the students' parents and teachers. It was the case that those students with high grades reported their teachers' and parents' attitudes to be favorable, and those with low grades reported lower attitudes. However, no time priority could be established for this relationship, so further research is necessary on all the results of this study. Although trends were discovered through this research, no definite relationships could be established.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather

Second Advisor

Burnell, James


Urban Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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