Study explores best way to integrate sports and school
Washington, US: Though some youth excel at a sport, having a backup plan is always a smart move because no matter how good one is, their athletic career will probably end.
"We looked at how ambitious young Norwegian footballers experience the pros and cons of combining school and sports," says Stig Arve Saether, an associate professor of sports science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Sociology and Political Science. The findings were published in the International Journal of Sports Science.
Regardless of the option, you pay a price. The school you choose if you want to do school and sports makes a difference and finding one that is positively inclined toward combining them is key.
"Elite sports schools and other schools that enable students to combine education with sports offer a balance. The programmes are intended to provide success both in the sport of choice and in academic work, although some prioritize the former over the latter," says Saether.
Easier to integrate elite sports at special schools
The researchers from NTNU and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH) spoke with eight football players and five coaches from two schools with elite sports programmes and two regular secondary schools with a sports focus.
They then analysed the student-athletes' responses to find out how the programmes at the elite sports schools and at public sports schools compared.
They found some differences.
"The elite sports programmes closely integrate school and sports clubs and enable the coaches and athletes to plan and manage the total workload more easily. This arrangement can lead to better development in both areas," says Saether.
Students who attend the elite sports schools seem to have an easier schedule than those who go to public sport schools. But attending a sports-friendly regular school does not only have disadvantages.
More independence outside the special schools
"Athletes who attend the less structured, but still sports-friendly regular secondary programmes are more concerned about the total workload of this option. But they also have more responsibility for their own decision-making," says Saether.
The different environments offer different advantages, risks and development opportunities for students who want to combine studies and sports at a high level.
The increased responsibility offers more self-determination for those who want it. At the same time, the risk of injury due to overtraining increases.
"Our results show how the different environments offer different advantages, risks and development opportunities for those who want to combine studies with sports at a high level," says Saether.
Admission linked to early achievements
The basis for admission to elite sport programmes is often linked to sporting achievements and club affiliation. The athletes' achievements at a relatively young age can thus affect the degree of support they receive in upper secondary school.
However, research shows that strong performance at a young age is not necessarily a good indicator of achievement at the senior level.
"This situation can quickly become an additional challenge. Certain athletes may receive less support than others, even though their difference in skill level, and the basis for programme admission, is not necessarily that great," says Saether.