Former high school athletes who were team captains or the most valuable players in their sports are more likely to have a college degree, earn a higher income, and remain more physically active than their nonathletic classroom peers, according to a study released this month.
The study, looking at athletes eight years after their senior year, was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The study’s authors used a representative sample of 10th graders in 1990 who were seniors in 1992, from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.
The study examined high school athletes based on their levels of participation in sports, comparing elite athletes (those who were team captains or MVPs), varsity athletes, and junior-varsity or intramural athletes with one another and with nonathletes.
Those who participated in sports at any level while in school were more likely to be physically active and less likely to be smokers eight years after high school graduation, according to the study.
Still, the study did find that athletes were more likely to binge-drink in 2000 than their nonathletic peers.
The report’s findings are consistent with the conclusions of numerous studies about the benefits of high school athletic programs, said Bruce Howard, the director of publications and communications for the National Federation of State High School Associations, based in Indianapolis.
While most of the federation’s studies examine currently enrolled students, he said the association has always believed that participation in sports activities is a predictor of later success.
Mr. Howard said that students who participate in sports tend to have higher grade point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates, and fewer discipline problems than students in general.
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2005 edition of Education Week